The Forest Park Reporter
By Mary Ann Hadley
Published: March 28, 2011
To everyone's delight, the McDearmon family had "endured" the trial wagon-train journey much better than expected. Accordingly, James and Ellen White were encouraged to proceed with the wagon-train exit from Texas later that spring. But first, they must hold a brief series of meetings in Denison.
Of all the meetings that the Whites held in Texas, we know the most details about the March-April meetings held at Forest Park, just six blocks from the Whites' Denison residence in the home of blind brother J.F. Bahler. Many of the details were preserved in a newsletter, the Forest Park Reporter, Vol. 1., No. 1., Denison, Texas, March 30, 1879, Elder Jas. White, Editor and Proprietor.
In a brief editorial, White explains that the reason for publishing the paper is that although the gentlemen of the Herald and News "have treated us with great respect and courtesy," and although "both have given reports of services at the Park," "... editors of religious papers, especially those who stand in defense of the unpopular doctrines of the Bible, usually want more room than they can reasonably expect to find in the columns of a secular newspaper."
White further explains, "the Reporter is published in the interests of the Tent Meetings being held at Forest Park, and will be issued as long as the cause of Bible truth may demand . . . . It will be found at the post office, book stores, business places generally, and in the hands of boys on the streets."
The four-page publication features on page one a synopsis of one of Ellen White's lectures at the tent in Forest Park. Her topic (one of her favorites) was: Christian Temperance. Using Romans 12:1 and 2 as her text, Ellen appeals to her hearers, saying, "Hunger, cold and nakedness need not exist in our world if man loved God and his neighbor. To man, God has entrusted much. He has given him talents of means, and talents of intellect; and his lineage is from God. His Maker designs that man shall exemplify the dignity of his nature by preserving to himself the very best condition of physical strength and power of intellect."
She goes on to decry the use of tobacco and liquor. [NOTE: The entire text is available to readers at Southwestern's Heritage Center.)
In another article, James White talks about the meetings at Forest Park, saying, "The good people of Denison and vicinity are apprised of the fact that our Cotton Church, in the form of a large and commodious tent, is located on a beautiful site in the center of Forest Park, where lectures are being given on moral and religious subjects."
Apparently, the Whites were given a city permit to hold meetings there, as James refers to "the courtesy and kindness of that honorable body, the Mayor and Aldermen of the city of Denison, and the watch-care of Police." And encouraging readers to attend the meetings, he adds, "Elder White, and his wife, Mrs. E.G. White, are very plain talkers. Having been in the lecturing field more than thirty years, they have acquired strength of voice and distinctness of utterance sufficient to reach the hearing of acres of people without the least difficulty."
James continues, "And having stood for the defense of the unpopular truths of God's word half the years of their existence, during which time they have met all forms of opposition, they have learned to stand up alone, if necessary, and fearlessly speak for God and his truth." He explains, "With hearts all aglow with the love of God, and his truth, and for perishing souls, they have given their lives to the great work of reform. If at any time they may seem severe, let it be distinctly understood that they are not aiming blows at the people, but at those popular errors and unhealthful customs of life which bind men and women as with fetters of iron."
That day, March 30, James White spoke on the Law and Sabbath questions at 11 a.m. At 3 p.m., James spoke again, on the subject, "God a person, and Heaven a place." Ellen spoke that evening at 7:30 on Bible Sanctification.
Apparently some of the townspeople had challenged Ellen's, using the text in I Corinthians 14:34-35, regarding women remaining silent in the congregation. In response to this, James wrote a lengthy article explaining that text and adding a number of other Scripture passages regarding women having the prophetic gift. James quoted passages regarding Miriam (Moses' sister), Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Phoebe, Priscilla, Anna, and seven other new testament women, including prophetesses.
Finally, this issue of the Forest Park Reporter promotes the sale of blind Brother Bahler's book, at 25 cents a copy, and also issues a challenge for anyone who believes "that the fourth precept of the Decalogue does not mean what is says," to "come out before the people and tell us what it does mean." James then offers debaters an opportunity to speak from the rough speaker's stand at the Cotton Church in Forest Park. He says, "The weather is fine, and the light of the moon is lovely." Will they do it? Read on to find out.
About this Article Series
The complete story of the Whites' Texas sojourn had never before been published before this series of articles appeared in the Keene Star newspaper (Dec 2003-Apr 2004). The series touches on the highlights, and presents little known facts about the Whites' stay in Texas.