George Ide Butler|
Born the grandson of a Baptist preacher and governor of Vermont, George
Butler became the fifth president of the Seventh-day Adventist church. At age
nine, he went through the 1844 disappointment with his family. He was converted
at the age of 22 through the efforts of J. N. Andrews. In 1859 he settled on a
farm near Waukon, Iowa. Upon the defection of Snook and Brinkerhoff, president
and treasurer, respectively, of the Iowa Conference, Butler was chosen president
in 1865. Two years later he was ordained to the ministry. In 1871 Butler was
elected as president of the General Conference. He was active in raising funds
for the first college at Battle Creek, Michigan, and in establishing Pacific
Press in Oakland, California, in 1874. He served a second time as president of
the General Conference from 1880-1888.
Butler replaced James White as president of the General Conference in 1871.
In 1873 he wrote a paper that advocated that the president of the General
Conference should be in the same position as Moses was in Old Testament Israel.
Ellen White did not agree with his strong authoritarian approach to the
presidency, and wrote a response to his position in Testimonies for the
Church, volume 3, titled "Leadership." Butler was a strong
advocate of Ellen White's visions, and wrote in their favor several times. James
White returned to the presidency from 1874-1880.
Butler resumed the office from 1880 to 1888. This period of his presidency
was especially eventful. In 1882 he was involved with the closing of Battle
Creek College, because the president, A. C. McLearn, was not following Adventist
principles of education. Butler then saw it reopened the next year, along with
two other schools of higher education, South Lancaster Academy in Massachusetts
(which later developed into Atlantic Union College), and an academy at
Healdsburg, California (later giving birth to Pacific Union College). Ellen
White established her home at Healdsburg, giving valuable counsel at the
beginning of the school. In 1887 Butler also dealt with the apostasy of D. M.
At the 1888 General Conference session, Butler opposed the message of
righteousness by faith presented by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Butler was
ill, and did not attend, but sent a 39-page letter blaming his illness, in part,
on Ellen White's opposition to him. Five years later, he wrote a letter of
confession that he had been wrong. It was published in the Review of
June 13, 1893.
After he was not reelected at the 1888 session, Butler retired to Florida
and took up farming. When his wife suffered a stroke, he cared for her ten years
until her death. He later became president of the Florida Conference, and also
president of the Southern Union.
Ellen White kept in correspondence with Butler during the years she spent
in Australia. She sent him a copy of The Desire of Ages to read and
comment on, which greatly encouraged him. He knew that she had not forsaken him,
even during the years that followed his opposition to her at the 1888 General