International Conference in
first international conference proper was held in Wuerzburg, Germany,
in 1921. This meeting was covered by a report which supplies much
information about the beginning of the work and the early experiences
of the SDA Reformers. For this reason we reproduce it hereunder
(transcribed from the Sabbat-Waechter, special issue, 1921):
to the first international convention of SDA Reformers held
Wuerzburg, Germany, 1921.
the merciful help of God, we as brethren from different countries
were able to meet in Wuerzburg, in the morning of November 18,
current year (1921). To this meeting we were invited by the German
brethren of the Reform Movement. The following were present: the
brethren of the German Union Committee; two brethren as representatives
of the believers in Sweden; two brethren from Denmark; two brethren
from Estonia; two brethren from the Danubian Union (which comprises
Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia); two brethren from Switzerland;
one brother from Czechoslovakia, and the brethren from the Committee
to prevailing circumstances, none of the brethren connected with
us in Poland were able to come. . . .
we had considered Psalm 96 and had, with thankful hearts, entreated
the Lord and Saviour to grant us His special presence, we discussed
our conference program.
decided to exchange our experiences in the Reform Movement, to
discuss the principles, to confer on our work, and to become united
in the proclamation of the third angels message through
the election of an International or General Conference Committee.
and Progress of Reform in Germany
O. Welp gave the following report:
and division in the SDA Church in our country began with the proclamation
of error by our leading brethren in Hamburg in the matter of Sabbathkeeping
during the war and our position toward military service when the
war broke out in 1914.
circular letter of Brother G. Dail (secretary of the European
Division), dated August 2, 1914, sent out from Hamburg, contained
an appeal for participation in the military and for Sabbathbreaking.
Our conscientious conviction as well as that of other sincere
brethren was provoked to raise a protest in many places against
this distortion of the holy law and rejection of the third angels
May 1915, we found out by a roundabout way, through a brother
at the General Detachment in Dresden, about a declaration directed
by H. F. Schuberth to the Ministry of War in Berlin, in which
declaration the wrong stand of the leadership was made known.
The churches in Germany had no knowledge whatsoever of this declaration.
Through the tract Der Christ und der Krieg (The Christian
and War), this error was taught in all the churches, and all the
protesting brethren were declared to be "a menace to the
peace of the church" and were disfellowshiped. We were termed
"the movement of apostasy."
from the movement of protest in the Rhine Province, there was
a similar movement at the church in Bremen. None of the brethren
who loved the truth more than error intended to leave the church.
We wept and lamented over this situation before the Lord. At first
we even hoped that our brethren would turn around and repudiate
their wrong stand. In September 1915, when we requested a meeting
with the leading brethren, we received no reply; we rather noticed
greater opposition to the truth. The opposition of the brethren
who teach error brought us to the firm conclusion that it is not
the will of God to use holy tithe money to diffuse error. We became
more and more determined in our desire to associate ourselves
together in the truth.
had our first meeting in the Reform Movement at Wermelskirchen
(Rhine Province), July 1915. There, after we had reached full
unity in the third angels message, we elected a committee
to lead out in the work of reformation and appointed a treasurer.
In April of the same year, some of the brethren had distributed
all over Germany a pamphlet containing the third angels
message, entitled, Die letzte Gnadenbotschaft (The Last
Message of Mercy). The magazine Waechter der Wahrheit (Watchman
of the Truth) first appeared in August. It was published in Barmen.
found good access to the churches everywhere, and many brethren
took their stand with Reform. Opposition to the truth, from the
leading brethren in Hamburg, kept growing. Our work became the
object of direct persecution by the authorities, who had been
stirred up against us.
December 1915 we had our second conference at Gelsenkirchen (Rhine
Province), with the presence of 250 brethren. Then the enemy began
an even stronger attack against the truth, as he brought error
and fanaticism into our ranks.
of the brethren will remember the names Sturm, Herms, Fratz, Kersting,
Jeschke, Portzek, Schamberg and Bach in connection with so-called
divine visions and inspirations. Publications were scattered advocating
the celebration of the feast of tabernacles and a different form
of self-sanctification. The way of sober truth was blasphemed.
These difficulties and trials prepared by Satan impelled us to
seek God in prayer and to search the Scriptures and the Testimonies.
The Lord answered our petitions by sending us more light and clarity.
the revolution in Germany, we met in Erfurt (Germany), January
1919, where the Lord showed us that we must scatter the light
given us, by means of literature, among His people all over the
world. We transferred our printing office and headquarters to
Wuerzburg and began an international work, which was richly blessed
by the Lord. We saw the need to publish a church paper in which
we could narrate our experiences in the third angels message.
So the first Sabbat-Waechter (Sabbath Watchman) appeared
we have gone through several difficulties, our work in other countries
. . . has revealed to us the need to establish a firm apostolic
church order so that there would be unity of faith and procedure.
During our blessed conference in Fr[ankfurt], in August this year,
a letter of invitation was directed to all our brethren abroad,
calling them to attend an international gathering for a full unification
in the third angels message.
the discussion with a few General Conference leaders in Friedensau,
July 1920, the explanations given by them showed that there is
a general apostasy from the third angels message. Nevertheless,
through a representation of the international Reform Movement
we were happy to bring the existence of this movement once more
to the attention of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
We are conscious of the fact that, in view of this international
gathering, we now stand before an important turn in the work of
reformation. May this work be instrumental in bringing blessings
and salvation to us and to many brethren who were formerly united
with us! This is our prayer.
reported by Brethren K. J. Stiphout and Le Vermeulen, the beginning
of the work in The Netherlands, under the Spirit of God, was similar
to that in Germany. At a conference in The Hague, 1916, Brother
Stiphout and Brother . . . (?), from the Amsterdam church, presented
a protest to which the leadership of the conference paid no attention.
Also, they sent in the same declarations as in Germany with reference
to Sabbathkeeping and the war question. As the consequence, Brother
Stiphout laid down his office in the church and, together with
other members, he resigned from membership in January 1917. The
activities of German fugitives, who brought fanaticism, has been
a great hindrance to the development of the work. Nevertheless,
the few standard bearers there have the firm hope that, through
patient labor, the way will be opened for the loud cry.
to a report by Brethren C. Adams and O. Welp, the Reformation
in Switzerland has had to face greater difficulties than in Germany.
Souls were aroused in . . . (?), who were scattered again through
the spiritualistic (?) activities of E. Herms. Apostasy and self-exaltation
have suffocated, even for these few, the work of reformation,
as Brother Carl Spanknoebel reported. In spite of all these things,
however, some who are working and praying with us rejoice to see
that the third angels message is gathering together Gods
is what Brethren K. A. Ekeroth and C. E. Liljebaeck reported:
a long time we had been deploring the great apostasy among the
Advent people and had been praying to God that He would send an
awakening among us. How such a thing would take place we had no
idea. We had hopes in new leaders; and new leaders came, but there
was no reconversion to the old principles. We were disappointed
again and again. Last winter a pamphlet came to our hands, entitled
To All Our Dear Brethren in Germany, from which we learned
that the apostasy existed also in Germany. Constrained by the
Spirit of God, we raised the following questions at the conference
at Nyhyttan, May 1921:
What is the position of the Swedish Conference, which is
now in session here, towards Brother Daniells views concerning
liberty of conscience in connection with the fourth and sixth
What is the position of the Swedish Conference towards the
Testimonies of E. G. White: Are they or are they not inspired?
May those who are striving for purity and holiness still eat
What is the position of the Swedish Conference toward the
Reform Movement in Germany and other countries?
Have the German church leaders confessed and corrected before
the church their deception concerning the law of God, and have
they retracted their writings containing doctrinal error, such
as Der Christ und der Krieg (The Christian and War),
as well as the declarations inserted in the newspapers?
answer to these questions, Brother Raft gave a long lecture in
which he explained that the Reform Movement is fanaticism. As
evidence that the work is of Satan, he mentioned a few fanatics.
After that we were disfellowshiped. We had long been waiting for
a reformation and had believed that the reformation must come
through the leadership. But by earnestly searching in the Testimonies
we saw that God will use simple men. Some wanted to sound a call
for an awakening; these, however, did not regard themselves as
worthy and thought that a revival would possibly come through
some ministers. We entreated much light and power of God. And
then we saw the heaven-appointed way open before us. Our God wants
to be with us, and we want to be sanctified through this pure
truth. We stand firm like one man with you, dear brethren, in
the glorious truth and testimonies of God.