By the turn of the century, Seventh-day Adventists had established 27 sanitariums and treatment rooms in the United States and abroad. Under added appeals by Mrs. White, in 1904 and 1905 they established three more sanitariums in Southern California: in Paradise Valley, Glendale, and Loma Linda.
God Prepares the Way
In 1902, from her home near St. Helena, California, Mrs. White had predicted that properties on which buildings were already erected, in localities especially suited to sanitarium work, would "be offered to us at much less than their original cost."1 Mrs. White assured church leaders that unusual bargains might be found. "For months the Lord has given me instruction that He is preparing the way for our people to obtain possession, at little cost, of properties on which there are buildings that can be utilized in our work."2
Could such a bold statement possibly come true?
Two years later, a National City facility (near San Diego, now the Paradise Valley Hospital) represented an investment of $25,000. Owners offered it for sale for $12,000. And church members eventually purchased it for only $4,000, "much less than [its] original cost." Also in 1904, owners of the $50,000 Glendale Hotel, now the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, offered it to the Seventh-day Adventists for $26,000. Later that year church members purchased it for only $12,000, "much less than [its] original cost."
After purchasing these two institutions, local church members as well as the Southern California Conference, which eventually assumed ownership of both Sanitariums, were financially strapped. And not long before, the denomination's General Conference had established a no-debt policy.3 Furthermore, the General Conference leadership's conviction that further indebtedness must stop, influenced union and local conference leaders to comply. Under these circumstances, because the Southern California Conference was debt-laden, its new president, G. W. Reaser, had been strictly directed to reduce conference obligations.4
Though to all appearances it seemed financially impossible, even irresponsible, Ellen White urged that the church should acquire the third institution, and that all three should become sanitariums that would be centers of medical and spiritual healing. Why did she urge the securing of a third property under these conditions? Because the sanitariums in Paradise Valley and Glendale did not match the property Mrs. White had seen in vision as a place where Seventh-day Adventists were to operate a medical institution.
Three years before, Ellen White had described a Southern California property she saw during a vision of the night. On October 10, 1901, she wrote in her journal that she seemed to be living there, and described patients sitting in wheelchairs, outdoors, under shade trees that seemed to form tent-like canopies.5 The two Sanitariums the church had already purchased, while fulfilling the prophecy that the church would be offered unoccupied but appropriate properties at much less than their original cost, did not match this vivid image. That place must still be located! Although she did not yet know it, Loma Linda matched part of her vision: an institution with great trees forming a massive, tent-like canopy.
But in 1901 Loma Linda was occupied and not for sale. The newly formed Loma Linda Association, a well-qualified and financially capable group of 40 businessmen and 80 physicians, was well into the process of building a major healthcare facility.
A year before Ellen White's vision, on September 29, 1900, the Association had filed its Articles of Incorporation, announcing its intention to operate a sanitarium and hospital. On October 6, the group purchased Mound City, a failed boomtown in the San Bernardino Valley, including its 64-room luxury hotel. On October 19, just nine days after Ellen White's journal entry, Redlands Journalist Scipio Craig wrote an editorial in The Citrograph stating that the new institution in Loma Linda was "the best equipped sanitarium in the United States."6 By November, the organization completed the creation of its well-equipped healthcare institution, and named the place Loma Linda, meaning "pretty hill" in Spanish. On November 23, Craig wrote, "Loma Linda, that most delightful sanitarium, is gaining in the estimation of the people all the time."7
Thus, not even close to being put on the market, the Loma Linda property certainly did not fit Ellen White's 1902 statement regarding "unoccupied properties" that could be purchased "at much less than their original cost." Nevertheless, in 1904 she asked church members to start looking between Riverside, San Bernardino, and Redlands. The next year, in May of 1905, Pastor John Burden reported he had evaluated 76 acres five miles from Redlands, which matched her description. He learned that the facilities on the property (the original luxury hotel) had been built in the late 1880s by land speculators. The most recent venture, the sanitarium, had lasted only a few years. The caretaker of the property had told Burden that the $155,000 investment, an estimated $3,100,000 today, could be purchased for $110,000. But even $110,000 was out of the question.8 Later, when Pastor Burden reported that the price of Loma Linda had been lowered to $85,000, Mrs. White responded in a letter to church members, dated April 12, 1905, "Arouse, and avail yourselves of the opportunities open to you."9
Still, $85,000 might as well have been $85 million. The denomination had recently established its no-debt policy. Some church members questioned whether the church should invest so much money in sanitariums. On February 4, 1905, Mrs. White provided an historical perspective on the issue. "The remark is often madeÉwhy depend so much on sanitariums? Why do we not pray for the miraculous healing of the sick, as the people of God used to do? In the early history of our work many were healed by prayer. And some, after they were healed, pursued the same course in the indulgence of appetite, that they had followed in the past. They did not live and work in such a way as to avoid sickness. They did not show that they appreciated the Lord's goodness to them. Again and again they were brought to suffering through their own careless, thoughtless course of action. How could the Lord be glorified in bestowing on them the gift of healing?
"When the light came that we should have a sanitarium, the reason was plainly given. There were many who needed to be educated in regard to healthful living. A place must be provided to which the sick could be taken, where they could be taught how to live so as to preserve health."10
Financially embarrassed, the Loma Linda Association dropped the price further to $45,000. Burden reported the spectacular bargain to Mrs. White when she stopped in Los Angeles on her way to the denomination's 1905 General Conference Session near Washington, D.C. She asked Burden to inspect the property more closely and report to her.
Burden found that Loma Linda included 31 acres of grain, 22 acres of alfalfa, vegetable gardens, an apricot orchard, a barn, and a 23-acre terraced hill covered with orchards, gardens, and beautifully landscaped lawns. Its grounds included scores of tall shade trees filled with canaries, a profusion of flowers and ornamental shrubs, carriage drives, and over a mile of gracefully curving concrete walks. The summit of the hill rose about 125 feet above the valley floor. Structures included five cottages, a large recreation hall, two bowling allies, and the five-story, 64-room frame hotel. The buildings, all in excellent condition, were lighted with electricity and heated with steam. Water was piped throughout the property from a large artesian well. The price also included $12,000 worth of almost new equipment and a stock of supplies that had never been used. It would be a perfect site for a sanitarium.11
When he asked what the lowest amount the owners would accept, they said they would settle for $40,000.12 Now, in 1905, Loma Linda fit Mrs. White's 1901 and 1902 descriptions. Not only did its trees form tent-like canopies, but it was unoccupied and offered for much less than its original cost.
"What shall we do?" Burden asked. "We must act at once as the [the Loma Linda Association] is anxious to sell, and there are others who want it." Burden suggested that she confer with conference leaders.13 Based on a confirming vision she had received the night before, she asked her son, W. C. White, to telegram Burden to immediately secure an option to purchase the Loma Linda property.14
On May 14, 1905, Mrs. White wrote, expressing her conviction in greater detail: "Dear Brother Burden: Your letter has just been read. I had no sooner finished reading it than I said, 'I will consult no one: for I have no question at all about the matter. . . .' Secure the property by all means, so that it can be held, and then obtain all the money you can and make sufficient payments to hold the place. Do not delay; for it is just what is needed. I think that sufficient help can be secured to carry the matter through. I want you to be sure to lose no time in securing the right to purchase the property. We will do our utmost to help you raise the moneyÉ. I pray that the Lord may be gracious, and not allow any one else to get this property instead of us."15
With this straightforward direction, and aware that others had become interested in buying the recently depreciated property, Burden decided to purchase the land and buildings. Had he been an hour later, the opportunity might have been lost. Agents were about to offer the property to other parties.16 Although he little realized how much controversy he was about to cause, his involvement soon would strengthen not only his own faith, but also that of his fellow believers through the decades to come.
Terms of Purchase
Because the Loma Linda Association investors wanted to recover as much of their investment as possible as soon as possible, the purchase was to be completed within three years and eight months. After a $5,000 down payment, three payments of $5,000 each were to be made. The remaining half--$20,000--was due at the end of three years. One thousand dollars would secure an option that would hold the property for a few days.17
John Burden contacted a few church members he thought might be generous, only to learn that they had already supported the purchase of the Paradise Valley and Glendale Sanitariums. Tensions mounted. Even though conference leaders replied that they would take no responsibility, Mrs. White continued pressing Burden to act.18
Loma Linda's owners agreed with Burden to hold the property for $1,000 until June 15, when the remainder of the $5,000 down payment would be due. Burden didn't even have the first thousand dollars. But he did know that Ellen White had said that money "would come from unexpected sources."19
One of John Burden's friends, R. S. Owen of San Fernando, remembered hearing a Mr. Larson say that he would donate to a good cause if he could sell some of his property. On Thursday afternoon, May 25, 1905, Burden and Owen went by rail to the man's farm south of Los Angeles near the coast. Nobody was home. The two walked a mile and a half, back to the rail crossing, but failed to flag down the electric car.
Because they had to wait for two hours for a return car, they were impressed (providentially, Burden believed) to return to the farmer's home and hope he would be there. By this time it was dusk, and the farmer's family was already eating supper. Burden and Owen introduced themselves.
After sharing Mrs. White's telegram and letters, the farmer suddenly exclaimed: "Praise the Lord. I have been praying for months for the Lord to send me a buyer for my place, that I might get out of the city and devote my means to advance His cause. A few days ago a man came and purchased my place, and the money is now lying in the bank. The devil has been tempting me to invest it again in land, but I am sure the Lord wants it to secure this property."20
Burden later wrote, "Without hesitation he turned over to us $2,400. It was such a surprise it fairly took our breath. We finally recovered our poise and said: 'We have no receipt, brother.' He said that was all right, as the Lord was in this thing. This experience, simple though it was, strengthened our faith that God was in the move, and ever afterward held us steady as perplexities arose which caused us to doubt that the Lord was leading."21
The next day, Friday afternoon, May 26, 1905, participants came to Loma Linda to sign the contract of sale. Because it was nearing sunset and the Sabbath was about to begin, Burden and the few church members with him postponed the signing of the papers until the following Monday. On the intervening Sunday, May 28, Burden received a telegram from G. W. Reaser, president of the Southern California Conference, who was at church headquarters in Takoma Park, Maryland. It read, "Developments here warrant advising do not make deposit on sanitarium."22
What should John Burden do? "The Lord's Messenger," had directed him to proceed with the Loma Linda purchase. Now, because it seemed certain that there would be no funds to make the total deposit much less the subsequent payments, Burden's conference president had told him to cancel the deal. But, at Mrs. White's urging, and with her assurance that the Lord would provide, on Monday, May 29, 1905, Burden paid $1,000 to secure an option to buy Loma Linda. By taking personal responsibility, he did not obligate the denomination. The money as well as the property would be forfeited if the down payment or any of the subsequent payments could not be made.23
Two weeks later, on Monday morning, June 12, 1905, Mrs. White visited Loma Linda for the first time. As she arrived with her son by express wagon from Redlands, she gazed at the main building. "Willie, I have been here before," she stated.
Willie, her traveling companion, responded, "No, Mother. You have never been here."
"Then this the very place the Lord has shown me, for it is all familiar." She turned to one of the ministers and added, "We must have this place. We should reason from cause to effect. The Lord has not given us this property for any common purpose."24
As she inspected the facility, she said repeatedly that she recognized it as the very place she had been shown four years before in the fall of 1901.25 She sat down in the recreation hall and spoke of the educational work someday to be conducted in Loma Linda, and urged that men of experience be invited to help establish the enterprise. That evening in the parlor she spoke on "The Great Medical Missionary."26
However, in spite of clear evidence that God was leading, financial realities loomed. The remainder of the down payment was due in three days. After Mrs. White retired for the evening, as some observers who had accompanied her noted, the Loma Linda Association, with all of its talent and financial resources had already failed to operate a successful healthcare institution in Loma Linda. What, then, should lead the small church group to think they could succeed? With four previous failures, the last one after an impressive effort, they didn't need a feasibility study to show what might happen.27
The consensus was that it would be "the height of folly" to think the small church could succeed with its meager resources. Writing about it years later, Burden reported that "some felt desperate at the thought of the conference assuming more financial responsibility" under the circumstances.28 Contributing to their distress was the fact that the Paradise Valley and Glendale Sanitariums were but partially equipped and lacking in competent help, especially capable physicians. Loma Linda could not draw support from either.29 Nevertheless, Mrs. White's interest was so intense that she not only inspected all of the patient rooms in the main building and the cottages, but she also inspected the kitchen, dining room, and store rooms, where she found quantities of canned fruit and supplies. The facility was a well-equipped, unoccupied sanitarium.30
The group made no decision. The next day, a larger meeting of church members in the Carr Street Church in Los Angeles voted unanimously to move forward with the purchase of Loma Linda. The conference, however, would not proceed from the recommendation of only one church. Officials did agree that a select group would accompany Mrs. White to San Diego the next day to confer with church members. In order for the venture to succeed, however, broader support must be secured. Although the San Diego group voted that the conference should not get involved, they decided to convene a meeting representing all the congregations of the conference on June 20, five days after the $5,000 down payment had to be completed.
Outside observers evidently did not consider the possibility of failure. The new endeavor enjoyed positive reviews by a Redlands newspaper, including identifying Loma Linda as part of Redlands. On June 15, 1905 the Daily Facts noted: "The Adventists have eating houses and sanitariums of the character in many of the larger cities of the United States and foreign countries and they have proven very successful. It will not only be an important acquisition to the City of Redlands in a commercial way, but it will prove an assistance to many who are ill."31
Because members of the conference committee at the Los Angeles meeting had indicated that they would assume responsibility if the June 20 meeting approved the transaction, and encouraged by Mrs. White's strong recommendations, local church members contributed the remaining $4,000 needed for the June 15 down payment. The July payment, another $5,000, was due in only 41 days. On June 20, 1905, delegates of nearly all 22 churches in the Southern California Conference met at the Carr Street Seventh-day Adventist Church in Los Angeles to endorse the purchase of the Loma Linda property. The conference president told the delegates of the importance of the decision they would make that day. According to the minutes of the meeting, "He then stated that Sister White had said that this sanitarium should be the principal training school on this coast. At this point Sister White interrupted him and said, 'THIS WILL BE.'"32
Although Mrs. White expressed her conviction that the Loma Linda property should be secured at once, some conference leaders continued expressing concern about whether the conference should accept any further financial responsibilities in view of its already heavy obligations. In answer, George A. Irwin, a vice-president of the General Conference, briefly expounded on the experiences of the denomination throughout its history in following Mrs. White's counsel, and how God had always blessed as church members moved forward in faith.33 Irwin spoke at length regarding a situation in Australia where Mrs. White had urged church leaders to purchase the Avondale Estate to be used as a training school and they had only predicted failure. In time, however, the property was secured and developed, and became one of the most successful schools in the denomination. Irwin counseled the conference to move forward in faith.34 After this appeal, the Southern California Conference Committee agreed to support the project.35
However, one month later, on July 26, 1905, the due date for the second payment, the conference committee met in emergency session in Los Angeles. The atmosphere was tense. The $5,000 payment was due at 2 p.m. They didn't have any of it. Some members again were critical of the plan to purchase the Loma Linda property. John Burden later reported that "the intensity of feelings was running high," and that they were "in deep perplexity."36 He then added, "It was natural that some who had from the first felt it unwise to accept the great responsibility should feel that these circumstances justified their misgivings. In the face of the humiliating necessity, as it seemed, of losing the property, it was easy and natural to blame and censure those who pressed the matter through against what appeared to be sound reason and judgment.
"Nevertheless, some remembered the clear words that had come through Ellen White's Testimonies, and refused to concede that there should be failure. Yet we knew not how relief would come."37
"He Will Carry It Through..."
Because Mrs. White had stated that money would come from "unexpected sources," someone suggested that the group wait for the morning mail. Soon they heard the postman walking up the stairs. The mail included a letter from a woman in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The sender was unknown to anyone on the committee and is unknown to this day. The letter had traveled for possibly weeks completely across the continent. Inside was a bank draft for $5,000, the exact amount needed four hours later on that deadline day. Suddenly, there wasn't a dry eye in the place. Burden later reported, "It was as solemn as the judgment day.É We then took new courage, as we felt that our Lord was going before us."38
Just as Ellen White had predicted, more money had come from "unexpected sources." One who had been especially critical approached Burden and acknowledged the providential turn of events. "It seems that the Lord is in this matter," he said.39
Burden replied, "Surely He is, and He will carry it through to victory."40
And so it happened. Other unlooked-for funds from various persons made it possible to pay for Loma Linda, not in almost four years, but in less than six months, thus gaining additional discounts totaling $1,100.41 Loma Linda's final purchase price was $38,900: (1) much less than its original cost, (2) money from unexpected sources, (3) for unoccupied property, (4) in Southern CaliforniaÉ(5) that had a tent-like canopy of trees.
Historian Keld J. Reynolds, Ph.D., summarizes Mrs. White's early involvement: "Without an intrepid little woman in a black bonnet the Loma Linda we know would never have had a beginning.É It all began when Ellen G. White, frail in body but mighty in spirit, coaxed and prodded reluctant men of the cloth in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern CaliforniaÉto allow her and John Burden to take on yet another medical institution at Loma LindaÉ. [She] never lost her courage or her determination that Loma Linda should become a great institution of learning, distinctive in concept and in the quality of its service and training programsÉ."42
The strong arguments of opponents reciting the impossibility of raising the required capital, compared with the remarkable way in which the funds arrived, convinced the most doubtful that God was involved in the purchase of Loma Linda. Mrs. White portrayed her continued interest in Loma Linda and acknowledged providential guidance in its purchase. She also noted its attractive ambiance. "I wish to present before our people the blessing that the Lord has placed within our reach by enabling us to obtain possession of the beautiful sanitarium property known as Loma LindaÉ. Until our recent visit, I have never before seen such a place as this with my natural eyes, but four years ago just such a place was presented before me as one of those that would come into our possession if we moved wisely. It is a wonderful place in which to work for the sick, and in which to begin our work for Redlands and RiversideÉ. It is one of the most perfect places for a sanitarium that I have ever seen, and I thank our heavenly Father for giving us such a place. It is provided with almost everything necessary for sanitarium work, and is the very place in which sanitarium work can be carried forward on right lines by faithful physicians and managersÉ. When I saw Loma Linda, I said, 'Thank the Lord. This is the very place we have been hoping to find.'"43
On August 24, 1905, John Burden signed the Articles of Incorporation as the president of the Loma Linda Sanitarium. On August 27, Mrs. White wrote to a Brother Crisler, "I am more and more pleased with this placeÉ." She stated that the equipment and supplies included in the sale astonished her: They included excellent feather pillows and cotton mattresses, an abundance of carpeting, the best quality white bedspreads, 35 cotton and woolen blankets, excellent furniture, including fine iron bedsteads, sofa cushions, and easy chairs. She counted 109 Russian towels. "Everything seems so abundant we scarcely know how to be thankful that no money need [be spent] for furnishings. There are washbowls of the most beautiful sort; we would not think of getting such beautiful things. The coloring of the ware is rich and elegantÉ. We consider the buildings without one stick of furniture [to be] a great bargainÉ. It is certainly in the providence of God that we have thisÉ. We are more and more surprised as we see the advantages."44
Burden and Mrs. White began immediately to invite those who should "give the right mold to the work of this new educational center."45 And to those who applied he wrote: "We are here under God's appointment to start a large institution. We have no funds. We are unable to pay your traveling expenses, and know not when we can begin to pay salaries. The most that we can say to you is that we need help. If your heart is in the work come along and share our poverty with usÉ."
During the first few weeks, the 35 Sanitarium employees, including physicians and nurses, learned that patient revenue ($16 to $25 per week per patient which included medical care, meals, treatments twice a day, and a room) was not sufficient to meet the payroll. With strong faith to offset their deepening poverty, they cheerfully offered to work for room and board until the patronage increased.46
To acquaint prospective patients with the work of the institution, nurses invited prominent citizens of nearby cities to enjoy a special Sunday dinner at the Sanitarium. In a short time, a sizeable patronage was developed.47 Most of these patients were ambulatory. Some returned annually and used the institution as a health resort. A few elderly people deposited their life savings with the institution, made Loma Linda their permanent home, and became known as "annuity patients."48
By the end of the year 64 guests had registered from as far away as Oregon, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. By June 30, 1906, Sanitarium accounts were more than $1,000 in the black. Pioneers, both employees and students, considered their involvement in what they believed to be a providentially ordained institution to be a unique privilege.
In the fall of 1905, Ellen White asked Elder and Mrs. Stephen N. Haskell, Bible teachers from the East, to join the staff at Loma Linda. Ellen White wrote, "We must soon start a nurses' training school at Loma Linda. This place will become an important educational center."49 Later that year, on November 5, 1905, Julia Ann White, M.D., a class of 1900 graduate of the American Medical Missionary College, the educational affiliate of the Battle Creek, Sanitarium, arrived in Loma Linda. She insisted that nursing instruction begin almost immediately. Three nursing students who had transferred from Glendale and Nebraska were joined by four others in 1906.50 The two-year school graduated seven nurses in 1907.51
In addition to teaching nurses, Dr. White opened treatment rooms in Riverside, San Bernardino, and Redlands, where she gave health lectures and demonstrated "rational" methods of treatment. She also made house calls by horse and buggy up to eight miles away.52 "Sometimes, it was very dark, and we would have to trust the horse to bring us home, as we could not see the way."53
During the first quarter of 1906, administrators organized "an advanced training school for workers in connection with the Sanitarium." In April, a council consisting of members of the Pacific Union Conference and the Southern California Conference committees met with Mrs. White in Loma Linda to finalize plans for opening The Loma Linda College of Evangelists. They called Professor Warren E. Howell, principal of Healdsburg College, in Northern California, to lead the new venture.
Because of the presence of so many church leaders, institutional administrators scheduled the Loma Linda Sanitarium's formal dedication to be held on Sunday, April 15, 1906. They sent invitations to members of local churches, businessmen, and leading citizens of the region. Mrs. White delivered the keynote address to an audience of about 500 guests who were seated on a sloping lawn among a grove of beautiful pepper trees.54
During her address, Mrs. White emphasized that Sanitarium physicians and helpers were to cooperate with God in combating disease not only through the use of natural remedies, but also by encouraging patients to claim divine strength by obeying God's commandments.55
She stated that the institution was to make a major contribution to the work of the denomination by becoming a training center for students who would be qualified to participate in the church's worldwide outreach.
A School of Medicine?
In a letter to "Brother and Sister Burden," in December 1905, Mrs. White first mentioned her desire that Loma Linda should not only train nurses, but physicians as well. "In regard to the school, I would say, Make it all you possibly can in the education of nurses and physicians."56
In 1906 Mrs. White again emphasized that Loma Linda was to be "not only a sanitarium, but also an educational center. With the possession of this place comes the weighty responsibility of making the work of the institution educational in character. A school is to be established here for the training of gospel medical missionary evangelists."57
The institution's first "bulletin," identifying itself as a "PROSPECTUS," declared the college's affiliation with the Loma Linda Sanitarium, and portrayed the kind of students the institution wished to attract: "Éthose who voluntarily and conscientiously commit themselves to the principles of trustworthiness and faithfulness when no human eye is upon them, and who are willing to act in harmony with a common standard of right and expedience adopted by the school, even when it involves individual inconvenience. The effort will be, not to rule students, but to encourage and teach self-government, always remembering that in a community self-government must be exercised in recognition of a common rule of action, for the sake of order and expediency. Frivolous, sentimental, or undisciplined young people would not feel at home here, and would divert the energies of the school from its appointed work. The bulletin instructed new students to send all "express matter" by Wells-Fargo, via Redlands Junction (now Bryn Mawr), California.58
Ellen G. White recruited most of the professional faculty from around the United States and as far away as Australia. The calendar issued that summer for the new school year offered four courses: Collegiate, Nurses, Gospel Workers, and a three-year Evangelistic-Medical course that included standard medical school class work plus Bible classes. Ellen White had counseled, "The healing of the sick and the ministry of the Word are to go hand in hand."59 At 10 a.m., September 20, 1906, a portion of the faculty met for morning devotions and declared school in session. They made no lesson assignments because there were no students. However, by October 4, the remainder of the faculty and approximately 35 students had arrived and instruction began.
On October 23 Burden wrote Mrs. White and asked for her counsel regarding the future curriculum of the college. Should the institution seek legal recognition as a school of medicine? Or should it seek legal recognition for a class of healer, such as the homeopath, the chiropractor, or the osteopath? Or some eclectic blend of what seemed the best in various healing methodologies? Or should it simply provide instruction for "medical evangelists," even though graduates would have no legal recognition and could not legally practice medicine?
Mrs. White delayed answering. She personally desired that Loma Linda should train physicians. At the time, however, memories of the Battle Creek controversy still haunted the denomination. Did the faith of the believers need to be strengthened even more? As they observed God's providential guidance in the months ahead, they would sacrifice unitedly to establish a well-equipped, properly staffed school of medicine. A year later, when Burden again asked whether the school was "simply to qualify nurses" or whether it should "embrace also the qualification for physicians," she replied, "Physicians are to receive their education here."60
In 1907 a national depression further impacted the financial stability of the Loma Linda Sanitarium. Because the institution could not pay even modest wages and salaries it compensated personnel (called "helpers") and medical staff with aluminum tokens. Only the store, the dairy, and the employees' dining room accepted these tokens.
During this time, teams of volunteer physicians, nurses, and students conducted "schools of health" in private homes, where they taught basic rules of healthful living, hygiene, and nutrition to groups of up to 20 people. With the blessings of local public school authorities, these teams delivered health lectures in San Bernardino elementary schools and high schools and distributed a special health and temperance issue of the denomination' s magazine, The Youth's Instructor.
In February 1908, 17 months after the College of Evangelists opened, a local committee met in Loma Linda to study relationships between the educational institutions in Southern California. It seemed obvious that some young people should be educated as fully accredited physicians. But the committee estimated that laboratories and other needed facilities for a medical school would cost $40,000 to $50,000 more than the original cost of the Sanitarium. When asked whether the needed facilities should be provided, Mrs. White cautioned against premature action: "The plans you suggest seem to be essential, but you need to assure yourselves that they can be safely carried.... If you had the talent and means to carry such responsibilities, we should be glad to see your plans carry."61
Needed: United Effort
While Mrs. White hoped ultimately to see a well-equipped plant built in Loma Linda, she cautioned that establishing a large medical school would depend on the church members' united effort. A month later she wrote: "We should not at this time seek to compete with worldly medical schools...[because] our chances of success would be small. We are not now prepared to carry out successfully the work of establishing large medical institutions of learning."62
By 1909 the faculty could only encourage those who wanted to become physicians to hope that their education would be accepted as equivalent to the first two years at public schools of medicine or that it would count toward graduation at Loma Linda, should it eventually become an accredited school of medicine.
In September of that year, John Burden interviewed Mrs. White with questions that concerned faculty and students. She replied that the church should "have a school of [its] own" to educate physicians, that it would not be a violation of principle to obtain a charter. In an interview held in late September 1909, she told John Burden, "If you can gain force and influence that will make your work more effective...that would be right.''63
Burden replied, "It seemed clear to me that any standing we can lawfully have, without compromising is not out of harmony with God's plan."
Ellen White responded, "No; it is not."64
She enlarged the concept in a letter to John Burden five weeks later.
"Wise laws have been framed in order to safeguard our people against the imposition of unqualified physicians. These laws we should respect, for we are ourselves by them protected from presumptuous pretenders. Should we manifest opposition to these requirements, it would tend to restrict the influence of our medical missionaries."65
Despite seemingly immovable obstacles, administration decided to follow the counsel that Seventh-day Adventists should have their own school of medicine. Church leaders then changed the school's name from College of Evangelists to College of Medical Evangelists (CME) and incorporated under the laws of the State of California on Thursday, December 9, 1909. The incorporation meeting convened at 2 p.m. at the Southern California Conference office, 424 Broadway Street, in Los Angeles, California.66 The State of California granted the charter on December 13.67 The Articles of Incorporation authorized CME to grant degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, dentistry, and medicine.68
Alfred Shryock, an 1899 graduate of the American Medical Missionary College (AMMC) in Battle Creek, Michigan, had been president of his senior class. His wife, Stella, completed nurses training at the Sanitarium before the couple married in 1899. Both were second generation Adventists. Alfred, now a practicing physician, believed that it was more important to help people rather than to gain wealth. In 1900, after teaching for one year at AMMC, he accepted an invitation from the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to direct a church-owned hydrotherapy treatment unit in Seattle.
Alfred moved the hydrotherapy unit to a better location, appointed Stella as supervisor and receptionist, and eventually employed several other nurses and a lady physician. The unit flourished as it treated patients suffering from upper respiratory infections. By 1908 Alfred Shryock had become somewhat prosperous. He had established a substantial family medicine practice, associated it with the hydrotherapy unit, and built a new home on Queen Anne Hill, a residential suburb of Seattle.
Alfred and Stella Shryock's winter vacation took them and their two-year-old son, Harold, to visit some of the Seventh-day Adventist Sanitariums being developed in Southern California. Because of its controversial beginning, church members considered the Loma Linda Sanitarium to be of special interest, even somewhat sensational.
Most of the institution's five physicians had been Alfred's schoolmates at AMMC. They expressed their strong faith that the new institution was under a divine mandate, announced that they were about to organize a school of medicine, and invited Alfred to join the new faculty. They had based their plans on Ellen White's recent statement that "physicians are to receive their education here,"69 an incredibly ambitious declaration considering the fact that the Sanitarium still struggled for existence.
George K. Abbott, M.D., a 1903 graduate of AMMC, medical superintendent of the Loma Linda Sanitarium, and president of the College of Evangelists, remembered that Alfred had had some experience teaching at AMMC and urged him to "come and join us." He specifically expressed his need for Shryock to teach courses in histology and human embryology. Dr. Shryock had worked for Dr. A. B. Olson at AMMC as a student laboratory assistant for a course in histology.
On their way back to Seattle, Alfred rejected the idea of successfully starting a school of medicine in Loma Linda as an unrealistic hope and commented to Stella, "I don't care to be affiliated with a one-horse medical school."
Nevertheless, the strongly motivated and persistent physicians at Loma Linda continued their appeal by mail. "We believe the plan to develop a school here for the training of gospel medical missionary evangelists is divinely ordained," they wrote. Although the sincerity of the Loma Linda physicians' impressed them, it did not persuade the Shryocks to move from Seattle.
John Burden, the business manager at Loma Linda, offered Shryock a salary of $20 per week. When Alfred replied that he would be unable to meet his expenses on $20 per week, Burden replied that after due consideration he would offer $21 a week.
Being conscientious the Shryocks thought, "Maybe the Lord's hand is in this." So they prayed for a sign. If God wanted them to move to Loma Linda, would He send a buyer for their new home? That certainly would be an impressive and useful sign. Alfred listed his property with a realtor on his way to work one morning. The new home sold before noon, and by sundown it was in escrow. Providence had made it perfectly clear what direction the family's future would take. Alfred Shryock moved his small family to Southern California and became Loma Linda's sixth physician.
Shortly after the charter was secured, the Pacific Union Conference, meeting at Mountain View, California, for its fifth biennial session, decided that in order to support such an ambitious enterprise, they as church officials must be satisfied that they correctly understood the counsel from Mrs. White. On January 26, 1910, a letter was placed in Mrs. White's hands. They asked, "Are we to understand...that, according to the light you have received from the Lord, we are to establish a thoroughly equipped medical school, the graduates from which will be able to take state board examinations and become registered, qualified physicians?''70
Of the Highest Order
Mrs. White's reply was delivered to them the next day: "The light given me is, We must provide that which is essential to qualify our youth who desire to be physicians, so that they may intelligently fit themselves to be able to stand the examinations required to prove their efficiency as physicians. They should be taught to treat understandingly the cases of those who are diseased, so that the door will be closed for any sensible physician to imagine that we are not giving in our school the instruction necessary for properly qualifying young men and young women to do the work of a physician....
"The medical school at Loma Linda is to be of the highest order...."71
She said further, "Whatever subjects are required as essential in the [medical] schools conducted by those not of our faith, we are to supply" to the church's youth who desire "to obtain a medical education that will enable them to pass the examinations required by law of all those who practice as regularly qualified physicians...."72
To establish such a school would require the broad-based financial support of the entire church. Pastor I. H. Evans, a vice president of the General Conference, spoke enthusiastically of advancing by faith. "We have before us...a plain, straightforward statement from Sister White, in regard to the establishment of a medical school," he said. "There is no guess-work about it; there is no equivocation; there is no false construction that need be put upon these words. The question is, Will we follow the counsel given?...
"...I can conjure up many reasons why at this time we are ill prepared to establish and operate a medical school. It is not hard for any man to say that we have not the money at hand. Any man need not be very wise to say, 'We do not know where we shall get medical men trained and qualified to take up this work.' But the question is, Will we establish this medical school, when the Lord has indicated so plainly our duty? I believe, brethren, if we step forward in the fear of God, and make an effort to establish this school, the Lord will help us and make the way clear.''73
A Hearty Response
The church responded with a heart-felt enthusiasm that ensured united action in behalf of the new medical college. Even though "the rivers of difficulties were full and overflowing their banks," as Percy T. Magan, M.D., an early administrator at Loma Linda said, and even though none believed their financial resources or talents were sufficient for the enterprise, many believed God had shown them the time was right. They responded to His call for the few resources they had, believing He would bless and multiply. They believed He called the church to walk forward in faith.