Stories from Sunnyside: Where it Began
TEACH Journal of Christian Education
Stories from Sunnyside: W here it Began
Avondale College ResearchOnline@Avondale
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Reflections, Impressions & Experiences
voice in not
but acts of
Stories from Sunnyside: Where it
Director of the Ellen G White/Seventh-Day Adventist Research Centre, Avondale
College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW
Seventh-day Adventist Church pioneer Ellen
White’s connection with Australia commenced
with a vision she received on April 1, 1874. She
referred to it as an “impressive dream in which
the messenger said, ‘You are entertaining too
limited ideas of the work for this time. . . . You
must take broader views. The message will go
in power to all parts of the world, to Oregon, to
Europe, to Australia, to the islands of the sea.’”
Fifteen years later, at the age of 64, she arrived
in Sydney in December, 1891.
Politically orchestrated circumstances brought
Ellen White to this distant land. Reflecting on the
purpose of her journey, she said, “This morning
my mind is anxious and troubled in regard to my
duty, can it be the will of God that I go to Australia?
This involves a great deal for me. I have not special
light to leave America for this far-off country.
Nevertheless, if I knew it was the voice of God, I
would go.”1 The depth of her personal experience
with God and confidence in His leading prevailed.
She wrote, “I am presenting the case before the
Lord, and I believe He will guide me.”2
In 1894, providential guidance brought her to
Cooranbong, a little village with a timber-cutting
industry, a Catholic church, a school, a police
station and a courthouse, where during the 1880s
the population reached about 700 residents. In the
context of the “impressive dream,” Cooranbong
was a speck in the vast ocean of human life.
Following the Seventh-day Adventists’ acquisition
of the 1500 acres (600 hectares) to set up the
education system, Ellen White built her home—
named “Sunnyside”—where she resided from 1896
About five years ago, I noticed a lack of stories
relating to Ellen White’s experiences of these years
written from an Australian perspective. I envisioned
stories and images from this past that transmitted
the emotions of the life lived in all its fullness—
stories that shaped a legacy. With this in mind, I
asked my administrative assistant Marian de Berg
to commence the research and collection of data
from letters, manuscripts and other resources.
Marian’s 29-year experience and love for details
equipped her with an in-depth knowledge of the
subject. For the past 12 years, she has offered
excellent support and assistance to my work as
director of the Ellen G White/Seventh-day Adventist
Research Centre. During this time, I have also
observed her flair as a writer, so I challenged her to
write a book. From my office desk, I often watched
her unreserved passion and commitment to the
task, and it is my pleasure to see the final product.
Stories from Sunnyside does not provide an
explanatory framework of Ellen White’s prophetic
role, nor a theological charter for argumentative
debates. It recalls the narratives in the life of a
person engrossed in the depth of God’s love. It
recalls the memories, the colours and the sounds
highlighting qualities such as personal uniqueness,
giftedness and value. Perhaps it’s in the places
where the rubber meets the road that one finds
the authenticity of the prophetic voice—a voice
that does not only speak but acts the part of God’s
extended hands in the community.
The depth and simplicity of these stories touch
my heart. The selected stories link with human
experience, the story of our heritage. They recall
the images of a person who translated God’s
love into practical Christian experience. Perhaps
here one finds the heart of the impressive dream.
I suggest it’s not just another book, but a set of
life-inspiring narratives challenging us to take a
decisive step not only to read the story but to make
those images ours.
Telephone (Office): +61 2 4980 2138
(Sunnyside): +61 2 4977 2501
1. Manuscript 44, 1891 . 2. Letter 57, 1891 .