Ellen G. White and the Ministry of Women

By William Fagal, MDiv 

Associate Director, Ellen G. White Estate, Silver Spring, Md. 

[The following was published as a two-part article in Ministry magazine, December 1988 and February 1989.]

Part I: Did Ellen White Call for Ordaining Women? 

What was Mrs. White's stance in regard to the ordination of women? Her prophetic role and her involvement in the founding and nurturing of the Seventh-day Adventist Church make this a question of interest to Adventists today. In recent years some have proposed that we may find support in Mrs. White's writings for ordaining women as pastors or elders. This study examines the main passages that people are using in support of women's ordination to see what those passages actually teach. 

The “Ordination” Statement 

In 1895 Ellen White wrote the following: “Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed to visit the sick, look after the young, and minister to the necessities of the poor. They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands. In some cases they will need to counsel with the church officers or the minister; but if they are devoted women, maintaining a vital connection with God, they will be a power for good in the church. This is another means of strengthening and building up the church. We need to branch out more in our methods of labor. Not a hand should be bound, not a soul discouraged, not a voice should be hushed; let every individual labor, privately or publicly, to help forward this grand work. Place the burdens upon men and women of the church, that they may grow by reason of the exercise, and thus become effective agents in the hand of the Lord for the enlightenment of those who sit in darkness.” 1 
Careful reading of this statement reveals that: 

1. This ministry is part-time. “Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time. 

. . .” Therefore from the start it does not seem to be referring to pastoral ministry. 

2. The work is something other than that which the church was already doing. “This is another means of strengthening and building up the church. We need to branch out more in our methods of labor.” 

3. Since “in some cases they will need to counsel with the church officers 2 or the minister,” she does not equate them with the minister, nor does she regard them as the officers whose responsibility it is to lead the local congregation. 

Was Mrs. White here calling for an ordained woman ministry? If one uses the term ministry in its broad sense of service, yes. But she has clearly distinguished this ministry from that of the pastor or the leading church officers. 

Further, the article from which the statement comes is entitled “The Duty of the Minister and the People.” It calls for involvement of the laity in the work of the church. Its purpose is not to change the structure of the pastoral ministry, but rather to change its emphasis from a focus on the minister's work to one in which the laity is active and motivated. 

Ordination of Women Physicians 

Since Mrs. White said that women should train as physicians, 3 and in another statement calls for a “setting apart” of physicians who are engaged in missionary work and soulwinning, some have felt that the two statements together indicate that she felt that women should be ordained. The statement about physicians reads as follows: 

The work of the true medical missionary is largely a spiritual work. It includes prayer and the laying on of hands; he therefore should be as sacredly set apart for his work as is the minister of the Gospel. Those who are selected to act the part of missionary physicians are to be set apart as such. This will strengthen them against the temptation to withdraw from the sanitarium work to engage in private practice. 4 

Does Ellen White here call for physicians to be ordained as ministers? She could have said so much more directly: “He therefore should be set apart as a minister.” But instead, she said the physician is to be “as sacredly set apart . . . as is the minister.” He is “to be set apart as such.” As what? As a missionary physician. That is made even clearer by the motivation for doing it—“to strengthen [him] against the temptation to withdraw from the sanitarium work to engage in private practice.” Ordaining physicians as ministers would not be likely to have a bearing on that, but ordaining them as missionary physicians would. 

When studying Mrs. White's calls for ordination, one must not fail to consider the positions those calls concerned. Neither of the above statements supports the assertion that she called for women to be included in the ordained pastoral or church elder ministry. 

Women in the Gospel Ministry 

Ellen White said clearly, “There are women who should labor in the Gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God.” 5 Women who do such labor, especially full-time, were to be paid fairly from the tithe for their work. “The tithe should go to those who labor in word and doctrine, be they men or women.” 6 She added, “Seventh-day Adventists are not in any way to belittle woman's work.” 7 

Some believe that Mrs. White thus called for elimination of any role distinction between men and women in the ministry of the Adventist Church. The fairness she urged in the treatment of women workers, they say, should be understood to include ordination to the Gospel ministry irrespective of gender. 

Yet Mrs. White did not make that connection. Her statement, “There are women who should labor in the Gospel ministry,” comes from a manuscript whose opening paragraph says: “The ministers are paid for their work, and this is well. And if the Lord gives the wife as well as the husband the burden of labor, and if she devotes her time and her strength to visiting from family to family, opening the Scriptures to them, although the hands of ordination have not been laid upon her, she is accomplishing a work that is in the line of ministry. Should her labors be counted as nought, and her husband's salary be no more than that of the servant of God whose wife does not give herself to the work, but remains at home to care for her family?” 8 

The subject under discussion is the pay of ministers' wives, and the kind of work they are doing is described as visiting homes and opening the Scriptures to the families. Further, rather than seeing ordination as a remedy to the injustice regarding pay, Mrs. White dismisses it as irrelevant to the issue. Her point is simply that those ministers' wives who function as what we would call Bible instructors are “accomplishing a work that is in the line of ministry,” and they should be paid for it. 

It is in this setting that Mrs. White's statement “There are women who should labor in the Gospel ministry” appears. The sentence that follows it underscores the nature of the work she envisioned for these women: “In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God.” Immediately she adds, “Husband and wife may unite in this work, and when it is possible, they should. The way is open for consecrated women.” 9 

So it seems that she was not calling for women to function in the same roles as do men, but rather to have a complementary ministry that focuses on personal work. She noted that women were not ordained, but gave no hint that that practice should change—though she called in strong terms for reform in pay practices: “The Lord has settled it. You are to do your duty to the women who labor in the Gospel, whose work testifies that they are essential to carry the truth into families.” 10 She even thought of setting up a fund from her own tithe money to pay certain ministers' wives who were giving their whole time to giving Bible studies and working with families, but who were not being paid. 11 

Women as Pastors to the Flock 

In the above statement about women who should labor in the Gospel ministry, she describes that labor as we would the work of a Bible instructor. She associated this work with care for (visiting) “the flock of God.” This statement may provide a key to understanding more clearly a statement published a short time later in an article entitled, “The Canvasser a Gospel Worker”: 

All who desire an opportunity for true ministry, and who will give themselves unreservedly to God, will find in the canvassing work opportunities to speak upon many things pertaining to the future, immortal life. The experience thus gained will be of the greatest value to those who are fitting themselves for the ministry. It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God. 12 

The remainder of the paragraph describes the character-building benefits of engaging in the canvassing work. 

Was Ellen White here calling for women to be appointed pastors of churches, and therefore perhaps even to be ordained to that ministry? There are several indications that she was not. 

First of all, when Ellen White wrote about ordained church pastors, she typically referred to them as ministers rather than pastors . In cases in which she used the term pastor she seems to have done so with a specialized meaning in mind, using the term to refer to a person doing personal labor in the nurture of the flock, rather than a particular church office or position. 

For example, she wrote about an Elder H who told “the poor sheep that he would rather be horsewhipped than visit. He neglected personal labor, therefore pastoral work was not done in the church and its borders. . . . Had the preacher done the work of a pastor, a much larger number would now be rejoicing in the truth.” 13 

Speaking of ministers who devote excessive time to reading and writing, she said: “The duties of a pastor are often shamelessly neglected because the minister lacks strength to sacrifice his personal inclinations for seclusion and study. The pastor should visit from house to house among his flock, teaching, conversing, and praying with each family, and looking out for the welfare of their souls.” 14 
She again expressed her concern for personal care for the flock this way: “Responsibilities must be laid upon the members of the church. The missionary spirit should be awakened as never before, and workers should be appointed as needed, who will act as pastors to the flock, putting forth personal effort to bring the church up to that condition where spiritual life and activity will be seen in all her borders.” 15 

In each instance here the concept of pastor is associated with the function of personal work for the flock of God, even when it is done by members of the church other than the minister. One who visits families, who teaches and prays with them, who shows personal care and interest, is doing pastoral work. 

If Mrs. White intended to open the regular pastoral ministry to women, we might well expect her to give strong emphasis to the point rather than simply mentioning it as an aside in an article focusing on the canvassing work. In the same volume of Testimonies we find an article entitled, “Women to Be Gospel Workers.” 16 Its focus also is on personal work in families and with other women, with no mention of the workers being ordained ministers. 

The same volume also includes a chapter entitled “Young Men in the Ministry,” 17 in which, after saying that “the Lord calls for more ministers to labor in His vineyard,” she adds, “God calls for you, young men. He calls for whole armies of young men.” 18 The whole chapter is a call for men to enter the ministry, with no mention of women doing so. The same sort of gender-specific call for the ministry of men also appears in the chapter “The Need of Educational Reform.” 19 It seems only natural to expect these articles to urge women also to join the ranks of ministers if Mrs. White believed that women canvassers were preparing for ordination. 

It seems that Mrs. White did not envision men and women doing the same work of ministry. Rather, she called for women especially to undertake a personal ministry of visitation and instruction in the home. 20 Such a work was necessary, important work, and was “in the line of ministry,” 21 though often neglected by the men. The work of these women would complement rather than duplicate the regular ministry of the men. And there is no call for ordination connected with it. 

Women Engaged in the Ministry 

Some have thought the following passage calls for women to serve as ministers in the same capacity as men: “Young men and young women who should be engaged in the ministry, in Bible work, and in the canvassing work should not be bound down to mechanical employment.” 22 The context is a call for our institutions to train young people for evangelistic work. 

One could argue that in this statement Mrs. White is urging both young men and young women to go into all three lines of labor. But that is not necessarily the case. The statement may be understood simply as urging young people to go into whichever line of evangelistic work that is suitable to them, without trying to specify what is appropriate to each gender. The burden of the message is not to change church policy to make room for women to serve in the same capacities as men, but rather to encourage the employment of both men and women in soulwinning work. 

“Woman Ministry” 

“Address the crowd whenever you can.” 23 This injunction, published in Evangelism in a section the compilers entitled “Women in Public Ministry,” was directed to Mrs. S.M.I. Henry, who had been granted a ministerial license the previous year. Some have taken it as Mrs. White's encouragement for women to seek a preaching ministry, which today is equated with being an ordained minister of the church. 

But in this injunction Ellen White is not promoting the employment of women as ministers in the usual sense of the term. The statement is in a letter from Mrs. White, published in Mrs. Henry's column in the Review , expressing a concern for the women of the church to be instructed in how to be servants of Jesus. 24 Earlier paragraphs make it plain that Mrs. White was encouraging Mrs. Henry to minister to and address groups of women: 

“If we can arrange, as you are now working, to have regularly organized companies intelligently instructed in regard to the part they should act as servants of the Master, our churches will have life and vitality such as have been so long needed. 

“Christ our Saviour appreciated the excellency of the soul. Our sisters have generally a very hard time, with their increasing families and their unappreciated trials. I have so longed for women who could be educators to help them to arise from their discouragement, and to feel that they could do a work for the Lord.” 25 

Mrs. Henry spoke to Adventist and non-Adventist groups throughout the United States and Canada, presenting her plan for “woman ministry,” which stressed the role of the mother in the moral education of society. Her work was the first approach the Adventist Church made to training parents and helping them with their problems. 26 

When Ellen White herself published the material she had written to Mrs. Henry, she did not publish the entire letter, but reworked portions of it for general use. She published it in Testimonies , under the title “Women to Be Gospel Workers.” 27 And she left out the section containing the words “address the crowd whenever you can.” 


Mrs. White called for greater involvement of women in the work of the church. She encouraged a greater diversity of methods of labor, and she wanted women to see what great things they could accomplish for the Master. But she had no concern with today's social agenda. Her statements neither support ordination for women nor explicitly forbid it. None of her writings deals directly with this issue. It appears to me that she envisioned women fulfilling a role complementary to that of men, without concern for ordination as pastors or elders. God would bless their efforts. 

“Women may take their places in the work at this crisis, and the Lord will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Spirit of God, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and this will give them a power which will exceed that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labor is needed.” 28 

Part II: Did Ellen White Support the Ordination of Women? 

What does Adventist history show us about Ellen White and the ordination question? If she simply did not address the matter as an issue in her writings, and therefore neither endorsed nor explicitly forbade ordination of women, can we perhaps discover her attitude by studying her actions? This article will examine claims made on the basis of certain historical documents and events in an effort to see whether these can show that she supported ordaining women as pastors or elders. Some key statements by Mrs. White on women's role in Gospel work will be presented at the end. 

Was Ellen White Herself Ordained? 

There is no record of Ellen White ever having been ordained by human hands. Yet from 1871 until her death she was granted ministerial credentials by various organizations of the church. The certificate that was used read “Ordained Minister.” Several other credential certificates from the mid-1880s are still in our possession. On the one from 1885 the word ordained is neatly struck out. On the 1887 certificate, the next one we have, it is not. 

Had she been ordained in the interim? Some have argued that she had. But the question is settled definitely by her own hand. In 1909 she filled out a “Biographical Information Blank” for the General Conference records. On the blank for item 19, which asks, “If ordained, state when, where, and by whom,” she simply inscribed an X. This is the same response she made to item 26, which asked, “If remarried, give date, and to whom.” In this way she indicated that she had never remarried, nor had she ever been ordained. She was not denying that God had chosen and equipped her, but she indicated that there had never been an ordination ceremony carried out for her. 29 

Why then do some of her credentials say “ordained minister”? The fact that “ordained” was sometimes crossed out highlights the awkwardness of giving credentials to a prophet. The church has no such special category of credentials. So it utilized what it had, giving its highest credentials without performing an ordination ceremony. In actuality, the prophet needed no human credentials. She functioned for more than 25 years prior to 1871 without any. 

Licensing of Women Ministers 

A number of women received ministerial licenses from the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Most of these were the wives of ordained ministers, and most of them apparently were engaged in personal labor similar to that of a Bible instructor today. Some notable exceptions are Minnie Sype, Lulu Wightman, and apparently Ellen Lane, who functioned effectively as public evangelists. But to date I have seen no evidence that women served as the leaders of churches. Further research may shed more light on this matter. 

Some have suggested recently that the circumstances surrounding the licensing of women as ministers in the Seventh-day Adventist Church comprise a mandate for ordaining women today. The argument, in brief, is this: 

The year 1878 saw two important events: The church first licensed women as ministers, and the church first called for an examination to be made of candidates for license, since it was understood that licensing would put women on the path to ordination. Ellen White took an active part in examining the qualifications of candidates for license, some of whom presumably were female. And shortly after the church began licensing women, it considered ordaining them. Though the proposal was not adopted, Mrs. White did not oppose it or warn against it. Rather, she later called for ordaining women to church ministries and paying them from the tithe. 

Several inaccuracies appear in this scenario. First, Ellen Lane was first licensed not in 1878, but three years earlier in 1875, at the same time that Sister Roby Turtle was licensed. 30 Further, these were not the first women to receive the ministerial license. That honor seems to belong to Sarah A.H. Lindsey, who received a license from the New York and Pennsylvania Conference on August 9, 1871. 31 The licensing of these women therefore cannot demonstrate that the church at that time assumed licensing of women would lead to ordination. The policy calling for an examination prior to licensing anyone came seven years after the first woman was licensed, and the question of ordaining women would not be considered until 1881, 10 years after their first licensing. 

Second, there is no absolute evidence that Ellen White took active part in the examination of candidates, male or female, for license. The assertion that she did is based on two pieces of evidence: (1) Mrs. White attended certain conference sessions at which women were granted the ministerial license, 32 and (2) she wrote the following comment about her stay at a camp meeting in Oregon—“I was unable to sit up yesterday, for with much writing, reining myself up to meet different ones who put in requests for license, speaking in public, and showing the unfitness of different ones to attempt to teach others the truth, it was too much for my strength.” 13 

The statement does not say that she took part in examinations or, as has been claimed, that she recommended that some of the candidates not receive licenses. It merely lists things she had been doing and makes no connection between “meeting” license applicants and “showing the unfitness” of certain unnamed individuals to teach the truth. The lack of connection between those two elements is shown by the fact that they are separated by another item on the list—“speaking in public.” And there is not a hint here that any of the candidates for license are female. 

If Mrs. White's “showing the unfitness of different ones to attempt to teach others the truth” was not in the context of an examination for a license, then what was it about? A possible clue occurs later in the same paragraph, where she describes her sermon of the night before: “I here brought in genuine sanctification and the spurious article which is so common.” 34 Was she counteracting false doctrine that was already being taught there, and showing the unfitness of those who were already teaching it? We don't know for certain. But it goes beyond the facts to assert that Mrs. White here said that she recommended that certain applicants not receive licenses. 

The third inaccuracy in the scenario lies in the claim that the church considered ordaining women shortly after it began licensing them, indicating that licensing was understood to put them on the ordination track. We have already shown above that rather than three years (1878-1881), which would correspond roughly to today's typical time between licensing and ordination in the Adventist ministry, it was 10 years after the church started licensing women that it first considered ordaining them. And the events of that consideration need some further explication. 

The Committee on Resolutions at the 1881 General Conference session introduced the following for consideration: 

"Resolved, That females possessing the necessary qualifications to fill that position, may, with perfect propriety, be set apart by ordination to the work of the Christian ministry.” 35 

After discussion in which eight delegates spoke to the issue, the resolution was referred to the General Conference Committee. 36 Referral to committee is a way to provide for more careful study of something on which the whole body is uncertain. It has also functioned at times as a means of dealing with something that will not pass, without having to vote it down. Though General Conference sessions were held yearly until 1889 (when they became biennial), neither the committee nor anyone else ever reintroduced the matter until recent years. Apparently the idea of ordaining women had little support in the church at that time. But did Ellen White support it?

Ellen White's Silence 

Mrs. White was not present at the 1881 General Conference session. She likely read the report of the resolutions in the Review a few weeks later or heard about them from her son W.C. White, but we have no record of her making any comment one way or the other on the matter. This is harder to explain from the position that she favored ordination than from the position that she opposed it. Proponents of ordination today deny that her silence lent approval to the handling of the matter. They say that her silence must at least be viewed as permissive in light of her encouragement to women to participate in the work of the church and her responsibility to warn the church against error. 

Ellen White's silence, by itself, neither promotes nor precludes ordination for women. But if she favored it, why didn't she speak out when the church veered away from ordaining women? She may simply have felt that the issue was not important. Or if she felt that the church should not ordain women, she may have made no comment on the resolution simply because none was necessary. No corrective was needed, because the church was not about to begin ordaining women. 

She took a similar course at first in relation to the pantheism crisis a few years later. In connection with this crisis, which came to a head with the publication of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg's book Living Temple , she wrote that: 

About the time that Living Temple was published, there passed before me, in the night season, representations indicating that some danger was approaching, and that I must prepare for it by writing out the things God had revealed to me regarding the foundation principles of our faith. A copy of Living Temple was sent me, but it remained in my library, unread. From the light given me by the Lord, I knew that some of the sentiments advocated in the book did not bear the endorsement of God, and that they were a snare that the enemy had prepared for the last days. I thought that this would surely be discerned, and that it would not be necessary for me to say anything about it. 37 

Had the church leaders discerned the danger of the concepts in Living Temple and moved against it, evidently Mrs. White would have said nothing. Yet her silence would not have been permissive in regard to pantheism. Only when it was clear that the error was gaining ground did she speak out. 

Charged to Protest Injustice and Equity 

If denying ordination to women were (as some today claim) arbitrary, unjust, and oppressive, we could expect Ellen White to speak out. She stated, “I was charged not to neglect or pass by those who were being wronged. I was specially charged to protest against any arbitrary or overbearing action toward the ministers of the Gospel by those having official authority. Disagreeable though the duty may be, I am to reprove the oppressor, and plead for justice. I am to present the necessity of maintaining justice and equity in all our institutions.” 38 

The women who might have been affected by the 1881 resolution were licensed as ministers of the Gospel, but church officials did not see fit to permit their ordination. Mrs. White spoke strongly in favor of the women workers being paid and paid fairly, even from the tithe; 39 she spoke about the importance of supporting aged ministers; 40 she protested against unfair treatment of Black ministers; 41 but she had nothing to say when the General Conference declined to ordain licensed women ministers. Evidently she did not see this as “arbitrary,” “overbearing,” or a matter of “justice and equity.” 

Again, one must be careful not to claim too much on the basis of silence. Yet Mrs. White's silence on the ordination issue should make one slow to claim that she gave her support or influence to the cause of bringing women into the ordained pastoral ministry. 

The final claim of the scenario we have been examining is that Ellen White called for women to be ordained and for them to be paid from the tithe. We have already examined the passages that are used to say that Mrs. White called for women to be ordained to the Gospel ministry (see Part I, “Did Ellen White Call for Ordaining Women?”), and we have found that they do not make such a call. Yet we must recognize that Mrs. White did call for women to be involved in an active personal ministry, and that she envisioned paying from the tithe the women workers who gave themselves whole-souled to this work, “although the hands of ordination have not been laid” 42 upon them. But there is no basis in her writings or in Adventist history for saying that Mrs. White supported ordination of women to the Gospel ministry. 

Mrs. White's View 

What then was Mrs. White's view of the ministry of women? Though there are no indications that she called for women to serve as ordained elders or pastors, she presents a broad view of service for women in God's work. She saw women as able to do a great work for Christ in personal contacts, carrying the message for this hour into homes and families. And she recognized and cited important contributions they could make in various leadership responsibilities in the church as well. 

For instance, she called for training to be offered for women in our schools. Speaking of Avondale, the newly opened school in Australia, she said, “The Lord designs that the school should also be a place where a training may be gained in women's work.” After enumerating certain domestic and educational training to be included, she added, “They are to be qualified to take any post that may be offered—superintendents, Sabbath School teachers, Bible workers. They must be prepared to teach day schools for children.” 43 

She described the important mission women could fulfill: “Wonderful is the mission of the wives and mothers and the younger women workers. If they will, they can exert an influence for good to all around them. By modesty in dress and circumspect deportment, they may bear witness to the truth in its simplicity. They may let their light so shine before all, that others will see their good works and glorify their Father Which is in Heaven. A truly converted woman will exert a powerful transforming influence for good. Connected with her husband, she may aid him in his work, and become the means of encouragement and blessing to him. When the will and way are brought into subjection to the Spirit of God, there is no limit to the good that can be accomplished.” 44 

While Mrs. White emphasizes a husband-wife ministry here, single women (“the younger women workers”) are also included. The type of work is not designated, but would surely include the various lines of work that we have noted before. She says that with modesty and propriety, with the will and way brought into subjection to God, women may let their light shine and may exert a limitless influence for good. 

Personal Ministry 

In Testimonies , volume 6, Ellen White published an article called “Women to Be Gospel Workers.” Presumably it represents fairly what her view of women as Gospel workers really entailed. In it she stressed the importance of personal work for others, then went on to write of the work that women are to do, after first speaking of what they are to be. “The Lord has a work for women as well as men to do. They may accomplish a good work for God if they will first learn in the school of Christ the precious, all-important lesson of meekness. They must not only bear the name of Christ, but possess His Spirit. They must walk even as He walked, purifying their souls from everything that defiles. Then they will be able to benefit others by presenting the all-sufficiency of Jesus. 

“Women may take their places in the work at this crisis, and the Lord will work through them. If they are imbued with a sense of their duty, and labor under the influence of the Spirit of God, they will have just the self-possession required for this time. The Saviour will reflect upon these self-sacrificing women the light of His countenance, and this will give them a power which will exceed that of men. They can do in families a work that men cannot do, a work that reaches the inner life. They can come close to the hearts of those whom men cannot reach. Their labor is needed. 

“A direct necessity is being met by the work of women who have given themselves to the Lord and are reaching out to help a needy, sin-stricken people. Personal evangelistic work is to be done. The women who take up this work carry the Gospel to the homes of the people in the highways and the byways. They read and explain the Word to families, praying with them, caring for the sick, relieving their temporal necessities. They present before families and individuals the purifying, transforming influence of the truth.” 45 

So the core of her burden for women was that they do personal work with women and families. If done in the right spirit, under the influence of Christ, “the light of His countenance . . . will give them a power which will exceed that of men. . . . Their labor is needed.” 

This need is still with us today. Though some urge this need as a reason that women should be ordained, Mrs. White envisioned women performing this ministry without reference to their serving as ordained elders or pastors. She said that such ministry is capable, when rightly done, of exhibiting a power greater than that of men. It is noble work, needed work. In defining women's work in this way, she has in no way belittled it. 46 

Such statements appear in many places in Mrs. White's writings. 47 Her view is consistent: without calling for ordination of women as pastors or elders, she urged a vigorous participation of women especially in personal ministry. 

Ellen White's view of women's ministry requires no change in church structure or polity, yet its implementation would revolutionize the church's practice. There would be a great increase in personal work being done, both by paid full- and part-time workers and by volunteer laborers. If the work were done in the spirit of Jesus, the women would show a power greater than that of the men. There would be an explosion in the numbers of people won to Christ and His truth through the gentle, appealing ministry of women. There would be healing in the home relationships, as godly women workers challenged men to reflect the self-sacrificing headship of Christ in their own relationship with their wives, and women to honor that headship as they would the headship of Christ. Families would be strengthened, and the church would make a start on the road to showing a world filled with hurting and broken families what a difference the practice of the lordship of Jesus really makes. 



1. Review and Herald , July 9, 1895, p. 434. 
2. The assertion, advanced by some, that “church officers” here refers to conference officials is unlikely in view of Ellen White's use twice in this article of the term “conference officers” to refer to this group and her corresponding single use of “officers of the church” to refer to the local church leaders. She seems to have been able to avoid ambiguity on this point. 
3. See, for instance, Medical Ministry , p. 140. 
4. Evangelism , p. 546 (Manuscript 5, 1908). 
5. Ibid., p. 472. 
6. Ibid., p. 492 (see also p. 491 for fairness in pay). 
7. Ibid., pp. 492, 493. 
8. Manuscript 43a, 1898. She protests such practices through much of the manuscript. More of what she says here may be seen in Evangelism , pp. 492, 493, though the material is credited to other, later books and manuscripts of Mrs. White. 
9. Ibid. (Manuscript Release #330 [ Manuscript Releases , vol. 5, p. 323]). 
10. Ibid. 
11. Ellen G. White letter 137, 1898 (Manuscript Release #959), pp. 1, 2 [ Manuscript Releases , vol. 12, pp. 160, 161]. 
12. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 6, p. 322. 
13. “Experiences in Australia,” p. 53, written in Adelaide, Australia, Oct. 11, 1892 (Manuscript Release #763, pp. 5, 6 [ Manuscript Releases , vol. 9, pp. 343, 344]). 
14. Gospel Workers , p. 337. 
15. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 5, p. 723. 
16. Ibid., vol. 6, pp. 114-118. 
17. Ibid., pp. 411-416. 
18. Ibid., p. 411. 
19. Ibid., pp. 126-140. 
20. We are reminded again of the statement quoted earlier: “There are women who should labor in the Gospel ministry. In many respects they would do more good than the ministers who neglect to visit the flock of God" Evangelism, p. 472, italics supplied). 
21. Manuscript 43a, 1898 (Manuscript Release #267, p. 1 [ Manuscript Releases , vol. 5, p. 29]). 
22. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 8, pp. 229, 230. 
23. Evangelism , p. 473. 
24. Review and Herald , May 9, 1899, p. 293. 
25. Ibid. 
26. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1976), pp. 581, 582. 
27. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 6, pp. 114-116. 
28. Ibid., pp. 117, 188. 
29. Arthur L. White, “Ellen G. White the Person,” Spectrum 4, No. 2 (Spring 1972), p. 8. The Biographical Information blank is on file at the White Estate office in Washington, D.C. A photocopy is in Document File 701 at the White Estate Branch Office, Andrews University. 
30. Review and Herald , Aug. 26, 1875, p 63 
31. Ibid., Sept. 12, 1871, p. 102. 
32. Ibid., June 12, 1879, p. 190. 
33. Letter 32a, 1880. 
34. Ibid. This was evidently a problem affecting the church at large, for in the next year Mrs. White published an 82-page pamphlet entitled Bible Sanctification: A Contrast of the True and False Theories (Battle Creek: Steam Press, 1881). This was an edited version of a series of 10 articles published in the Review and Herald between January 18 and May 3, 1881. Their appearance in pamphlet form in the same year of their publication in the Review indicates the importance they held for the church. Bible Sanctification was later republished as The Sanctified Life 
35. Review and Herald , Dec. 20, 1881, p. 392. 
36. Ibid. 
37. Selected Messages , bk. 1, pp. 202, 203. 
38. Review and Herald, July 26, 1906, p. 8 (also in Selected Messages , bk. 1, p. 33). 
39. Evangelism , p. 492; see also p. 491 concerning fairness in pay. 
40. Ibid. 
41. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 9, p. 223. 
42. Manuscript 43a, 1898 (also in Gospel Workers , p. 452). 
43. Evangelism , p. 475 (Letter 3, 1898). 
44. Ibid., pp. 467, 468 (Manuscript 91, 1908). 
45. Testimonies for the Church , vol. 6, pp. 117, 118. 
46. She cautioned others concerning that danger: “Seventh-day Adventists are not in any way to belittle woman's work” ( Evangelism, pp. 492, 493). 
47. See, for example, Christian Service , pp. 27-29; Evangelism , pp. 459-461, 464-478, 491-493; Gospel Workers , pp. 452, 453; Welfare Ministry , pp. 143-166; and Counsels on Health . She also calls for women to become involved in medical missionary work, some as doctors and nurses, and others as nonprofessionals.