A Desperate Need

17 April 1866

As early as the Whites' first visit to Dansville, Ellen had been impressed with the desirability of a health institution for Sabbathkeeping Adventists. Instead of the rapid advance of the message expected at this time, the work was crippled by the illness of many of the leading workers.

James White was incapacitated by illness. But he was not the only one. Because of their poor health, Elders J. N. Loughborough, D. T. Bourdeau, A. S. Hutchins, J. B. Frisbie, and John Byington had been doing little or no field work during the year. All three children of Elder O. C. Taylor had been taken by death, and also one each in the families of Elders R. J. Lawrence and J. N. Andrews. {WV 137.2}
In the April 17, 1866, issue of the Review, Uriah Smith described the sad situation:

Instead of an increase of laborers, many of the more efficient ones then in the field have been either entirely prostrated or afflicted in some way calculated to dishearten or cripple them. And as in times of prosperity it is proper to enumerate our blessings, so now in this time of adversity and humiliation let us enumerate our calamities.

Smith listed 13 cases of illness, death, and other misfortune. He declared:

All this has intervened since our last conference, and what is the meaning of it all? If God is by these things designing to teach us an important lesson, we should not be slow to learn it (ibid.).

Not only was there a need for a health institution but a need for a change in the health habits of the believers.

For a year the church had had before it an outline of the basic health principles, in the six How to Live pamphlets.