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I Was Canright's Secretary
by Carrie Johnson

Page 140

16. "Our People"

I MUST ADMIT that when I, a new member of the Adventist church, first began to work with Mr. Canright in Mr. Cornell's office and was so directly exposed to his constant criticism of Seventh-day Adventists that I sometimes wondered if Mr. Canright might not be right after all. It had been only a few months before, that I told the Methodist preacher in Minnesota that if I should ever meet the author of Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, that would be time enough to decide whether he was right or whether he was wrong. Now I was hearing this author daily pouring forth in dictation what purported to be the deceptions of Seventh-day Adventism. Day after day I had to listen to Mr. Canright's bitterness against the Adventist ministry and particularly against Mrs. Ellen G. White.

I learned from his dictation, that it was only the uneducated who accepted and held the doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism, and that it was his purpose to put his erstwhile brethren, whom he professed to love, straight, and "liberate" them from their severe bondage by helping them to escape from all he had suffered. I have often wondered how many Adventists Mr. Canright "rescued" and persuaded to leave the Adventist church.

During the time I was his secretary I also heard him state and restate many times that the denomination was going to pieces. He declared this would be the case because the leaders did not think for themselves. He predicted that within ten

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years the church would become extinct. I continued to imagine that he might, possibly, be right. Yet I also began to see that some things he said simply didn't ring true. Finally I came to the realization that I was listening to only one man, and felt I should hear from others.

One of the things that struck me as odd as I worked from day to day for Mr. Canright was his frequent use of the term "our people" as he referred to Seventh-day Adventists. It puzzled me that a man who despised Seventh-day Adventists as much as Mr. Canright did should refer to them in these terms. It seemed to me that if he had repudiated the doctrines of the church, denounced its ministers as ignoramuses and stooges, written a book Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, and was even now writing a book against Mrs. E. G. White, that he should hardly speak of them as "our people."

The letters he dictated to me also often spoke of "our people." One of them, which is typical, is his communication to E. G. Gates, dated September 4, 1913, in which he says:

"I regret exceedingly that my views compel me to separate from our people. I love them still, and the main doctrines of the Second Advent just the same as ever, but there are things in the faith which I do not believe as you know, if you have seen my book." (Italics supplied.)

In another letter he dictated, on May 15, to W. A. Colcord, he referred to our Sabbath Schools. (Italics supplied.)

Later, in my research, I discovered that as far back as 1887 he had had an article published at his request in a Review and Herald a few weeks after he was dropped from membership in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in which he used the same expression.

"It will always give me pleasure to regard our people and speak of them as an honest and devout people."—D. M. Canright, in Review and Herald, March 1, 1887. (Italics supplied.)

I wondered, Why should he, who had been liberated from the people who he asserted were in such bondage, repeatedly identify himself as one of "our people." Strange as it may seem, his former "deceived brethren" were still, to Mr. Canright, "our people."

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As I have said before, Mr. Canright was deeply interested in the forthcoming session of the General conference of 1913. How much he wished that he might attend that General Conference session, I knew only too well, firsthand. All this made a deep impression upon my mind.

It soon became clear to me that he was studying some way to make contact with the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist church. But I wondered what his purpose might be.

I remember that in one of his letters addressed to his old friend D. W. Reavis, to which I have referred earlier, he asked him, if possible, to arrange to have the obituary of his wife published in the Review even though her death had occurred more than four months before. The wording of this communication was quite evidently prepared especially with a view to the coming General Conference.

While working as his secretary I noticed that Mr. Canright usually carried copies of the Review in his pocket. I also noticed that occasionally he would pull one out and read it. Frequently as he read tears would well up in his eye and he would groan audibly. Curiosity got the better of me, and when a favorable opportunity presented itself I read the items that seemed to affect him so much.

After I read these items my mental reservations concerning the church I had recently joined vanished. This is what I read:

"Enlarging the Border"

The month of May, 1913, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the General Conference. It is interesting indeed to contemplate the many changes that have taken place in our work in organization during this period, and it is not only interesting, but most encouraging as well.

Fifty years ago the movement had but a meager following. The work had reached that state that only several State conferences had been organized. Our system of institutions in printing houses, schools, and sanitariums which we possess today, had no existence. Our work had not extended outside of the American border. . . . We have now not only a General Conference in the sense in which that term was understood five decades ago, but a world conference with divisions one thousandfold more important in the interests they embrace than was the whole General Conference at the time of its organization. . . . These changes in our work are inevitable. They come as a result of the added volume and strength and

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widespread influence of this movement. It is the firm conviction of all that the important changes made at this meeting will greatly make for the strength of our work in coming years. The Lord is doing a great work in the earth. Let us be true and loyal to him and to the part he gives to act. —Editorial, Review and Herald, June 5, 1913.

In another issue I found the following testimonials:

A. W. Anderson: From many nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, from every continent on the globe, have flocked to the city of Washington representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to confer together upon that which is the greatest of all themes because it is the most momentous to mankind,—the preaching of the everlasting gospel to all the world in this generation. . . . The work is truly a stupendous one, but the reports brought to this Conference from heathen, Mohammedan, and Catholic countries show that all things are possible to those who will consent to be used by God in the furtherance and fulfillment of his plans.

C. H. Edwards: Taken all together, this Conference will prove, we believe, to be the most spiritual and blessed conference we have ever held. From this place will go out into every land a mighty impetus to our work such as we have never seen or known before.

J. N. Loughborough: [In] a few days more, it will be sixty-one years since I began preaching the third angel's message. It so happened that the first day that I ever saw Sister White—thirty minutes after I was introduced to her—I saw her in heavenly vision, and that was the first I ever heard of it. As I have said many times, it was wonderful that God introduced me to this thing as he did, and there has not been a man among Seventh-day Adventists aside from Elder James White, who has had as many privileges along this line as I had in the earlier years of the message.

S. N. Haskell: I did not know before that Brother Loughborough began to keep the Sabbath a year before I did. . . . But . . . I have kept it for sixty [years]. I am very thankful for what we see here this morning. . . . Now the truth that began so small and was apparently so feeble, has encircled the earth, and it has been demonstrated that God can do something, that he has done something. The nations of the earth are to be lighted up with the glory of the third angel's message; and the end is not yet.

E. A. Curtis: Elder Loughborough preached this message to my father more than 50 years ago. About 40 years ago, I and the members of my family listened to Elder D. M. Canright, and we accepted the truth from his ministry. I have been connected with the work ever since. I have loved it as my life.

D. H. Kress: This meeting is certain to be a great blessing to those who have the privilege of attending. . . . It tends to bind together the various members of the body with a bond of sympathy and love which is bound to bring strength into the work. . . . . I personally was greatly blessed in meeting men and women with whom I was acquainted twenty-five years ago, who are active workers today, bearing responsibilities in foreign fields.

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Years ago my wife and I had charge of the first French and German school opened by us as a people at Battle Creek. Among those in attendance were Brethren Vuilleumier, Oblander, Schuberth, Aushier, and Westphal. . . . A strange tie exists between old associates in the work, and a meeting of this character binds us all together a little closer.

R. C. Porter: This great gathering from all parts of the world now assembled at Takoma Park is a marvelous manifestation of God's ability to foresee the end from the beginning and to fulfill prophecy. . . . The spiritual services are seasons of refreshing, and the committees and business sessions are most harmonious.

E. E. Andross: This is certainly a great meeting. In point of delegation it is by far the largest we have ever held. Almost every part of the world is represented by the delegates. . . . As the reports from the various mission fields have been read from day to day, it has seemed as if we were living over again the experiences of the apostles as recorded in the book of Acts.

A. C. Bordeau: I thank the Lord that I embraced the truth nearly 58 years ago. I loved it then, I love it far more today than I did then. I would never separate from this people for anything in this world. This is my people.—Review and Herald, July 3, 1913, p. 644.

As Mr. Canright read these stirring testimonies from his former ministerial brethren he seemed to long to be at the conference with "our people."

And I, as I secretly read these thrilling words, decided firmly in my heart that Seventh-day Adventists would always be "my people."

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