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Mountain View Conference History

Taken from the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Commentary Reference Series


History and Development of Seventh-day Adventist Work. Beginnings. SDA teachings appear to have entered West Virginia first through publications. About 1879, at the request of J.R.S. Mowrey, of Virginia, Mrs. Isaac Sanborn sent Signs of the Times to a few people at Rockport, Wood County, West Virginia. When word came that several were observing the Sabbath and wished to hear preaching, Isaac Sanborn, an evangelist working in Virginia, went and held meetings about on mile from Rockport near the end of 1879, and in February 1880 he organized a group of 16 converts.

      Returning to West Virginia in June, he went to Jerry’s Run, Wood County, near Rockport. Finding the time inconvenient for meetings, he went to Ohio and returned in the latter part of June. On July 17 he baptized four and held a Communion service at the home of Caleb (or Cabell) Dugans, a prospective convert who was prevented by ill health from attending the meetings.

      In July Sanborn went to Round Knob and Shambling’s Mills, in Roane County, to visit persons interested through reading the Signs sent by the Vigilant Missionary Society of North Scituate, Rhode Island. Sanborn reported preaching his first sermon in that county at Round Knob at a monthly meeting of the Advent Christians. S.P. Whitney, the leading Advent Christian minister, was at first friendly, but later hostile. Yet Sanborn won 15 converts, including two “first-day” Adventist ministers. (Later, in 1893, Whitney resigned the presidency of the Advent Christian Conference of West Virginia and became an SDA minister; his name appears in the SDA directories of 1894-1896.)

      In the autumn of 1880 Sanborn appears to have held meetings among the Advent Christians in Kanawha County. By early November he reported about 40 adherents in the state. In December he closed his work in the state, having won six, including a United Brethren minister at Berea.

      In January 1881 J.R.S. Mowrey arrived in Charleston, and on May 22 organized a church of 16 members at Jerry’s Run, apparently the first in West Virginia. By mid-July it was estimated that there were 100 SDAs in the state.

      About the first of July 1881 came W.R. Foggin, who during the next six years, sometimes alone and sometimes with another evangelist, held meetings in the following places: 1882, Berea (Ritchie County), Addison, Sugar Grove, and Adkinson (Webster County); 1883, Sherman and Ravenswood (Jackson County), New Martinsville (Wetzel County); 1884 Mineralwells (Wood County), Ox Box, Cisco (Ritchie County), and Freeport (Wirt County);1885, Flat Woods (or Flatwoods) (Wirt County); 1886, Wiseburg (Jackson County), Kanawha Station, Flatwoods, Jerry’s Run, and Tyner (Wood County), Berea (Ritchie County), Kanawha and Walker’s Station (Wood County); 1887, Kettle (Roane County), Sherman and Ravenswood (Jackson County), Ox Bow, and Rusk, apparently near Walker’s Station.

      On April 16, 1883, J.O. Corliss organized the second Seventh-day Adventist church in West Virginia, at Berea, with 11 members. On July 1, 1883, that church held a business meeting, apparently the first such meeting in the state. In 1884 the Berea church erected a building, apparently the first owned by SDAs in West Virginia.

      During the 1884 General Conference it was recommended that “West Virginia be united to the Ohio Conference, and that Elder C.H. Chaffee (of Missouri) move to labor in that field.” It was also recommended that “the generous offer of the Indiana Conference to furnish a tent to West Virginia” be accepted. It appears that this helpful interest on the part of the Indiana conference was a result of the visits of S.H. Lane to West Virginia earlier in 1884. A year after the 1884 General Conference session the Ohio Conference in session accepted the request of G.I. Butler, the Ohio Conference take the West Virginia mission “under its watch-care” (Review and Herald 62:716, Nov. 17, 1886, at the first “state meeting” “the brethren of the state all voted to be taken into the Ohio Conference” (ibid. 63:203, Mar. 30, 1886).

      In July 1885 an influential member of the Christian Church of Kanawha Station (or simply Kanawha) in Wood County urged Chaggee and Foggin to hold a series of tent meetings in his town, volunteering to pay all the expenses (ibid. 62:507, Aug 11, 1885). The meetings (July 30-Sept. 16) were well attended, and by the close 51 had signed the4 covenant, 19 had been baptized, and expenses to the evangelist had amounted to only 46 cents. It was “decided to immediately take steps to erect a house of worship; and notwithstanding the hard times, one hundred and twenty three dollars were pledged for that purpose” (ibid. 62:619, Oct 6, 1885). It appears from later reports that during the winter of 1885-1886 others were added to this group and that the meetinghouse, which eventually was build, was owned by B.B. Johnson, an SDA from Wisconsin who later served as conference treasurer.

      In 1886 Chaffee held meetings at Flatwoods (Wirt County), Barrackville, (Marion County), Kanawha Station (Wood County), Fairmount and Paw Paw (Marion County) Kanawha Station and Parkersburg (Wood County), ending his work in West Virginia about Oct. 5, 1886.

      While Foggin and Haughey held meetings in a second tent in Wiseburg and Jerry’s Run in the summer of 1886, Chaffee and D.E. Lindsey held meetings at Fairmount, Marion County. At the Ohio Conference session, held from Aug. 11 to 24, 1886, the churches of Kanawha, Freeport, and Berea were received into the conference, W.R. Foggin representing the Kanawha church.

      During the week of Oct. 3 to 9, 1886, A.A. Meridith preached four sermons to the group in Kettle, Roane County. I.H. Bee, who appears to have been the leader of this group, pleaded for a minister to organize them into a church. (ibid. 63:667, Oct 26, 1886).

      The second West Virginia state meeting was held at Kanawha some time late in October or early November 1886, with some 85 attending. At this meeting it was decided to hold a camp meeting in the state the following summer (1887) and to purchase a tent. For this $225 was pledged. It was also decided that J.W. Stone, later the first conference president, “labor for a time” in West Virginia (ibid. 63:717, Nov. 16, 1886). It was reported that at that time there were “one hundred and fifty Sabbathkeepers in the sate” (ibid. 63:747, Nov. 30, 1886)

      It appears that about the time of the state meeting, Foggin and S.J. Iles, a new Seventh-day Adventist minister in West Virginia, had just closed several weeks of tent meetings at Tyner, Wood County. No converts were made at that time, but the evangelist felt that there were potential converts among those interested and requested Stone to come and hold meetings. He did so soon after the state meeting, and as a result nine signed the covenant and a Sabbath school of 21 was organized.

      During the latter part of December 1886 Foggin and Iles held meetings at Kanawha, adding two to the church, and then held meetings at Walker’s Station, Wood County, a few miles from Kanawha. Later the Kanawha Station church was merged with the church at Walker and became known as the Ross Memorial church.

      On Jan. 3, 1887, the evangelists left walker’s Station for Freeport and from there walked to Kettle (probably in Kanawha County) where they closed a series of meetings about Jan. 20, 1887, which resulted in 16 signing the covenant and a church of 12 members being organized. Two of the new members were former ministers of the “first-day” Adventists.

      The first camp meeting in West Virginia, originally announced for Sept. 6 to 13, 1887, was held at Parkersburg Sept. 13 to 20, with an attendance of about 125. The camp meeting committee consisted of B.B. Johnson, John F. Meade, John Lowman, and probably D.K. Mitchell, of Ohio, as chairperson.


      Conference Organization and Development. On Sept. 15, 1887, West Virginia was separated from the Ohio Conference and organized into a separate conference. W.J. Stone was elected conference president; W.R. Foggin, secretary; and B.B. Johnson, treasurer. The conference committee consisted of the conference president, J.A. Stuart (Stewart), and J.B. Ramsey. There were about 200 Sabbathkeepers, including 92 SDA church members, in West Virginia at the time. E.W. Farnsworth of the General Conference and R.A. Underwood of the Ohio Conference were present at this camp meeting. On Nov. 13, 1887, the General Conference admitted West Virginia to the sisterhood of conferences. Tent meetings were held in connection with the camp meeting, conducted by the conference president and O.J. Mason.

      Progress between 1887 and 1891 was slow but steady. The second camp meeting in West Virginia was held at Salem from July 24 to 31, 1888. The second camp meeting in West Virginia was held at Salem from July 24 to 31, 1888. The same year the Berea church building was dedicated and the Amos church was organized (and dedicated the next year). The 1889 camp meeting was held at Grafton Park, two miles from Grafton, Taylor County, from Aug. 20 to 27. At the 1889 General Conference, West Virginia was made a part of the newly organized District 1 under A.T. Robinson. At the 1890 camp meeting held at Newburgh (Newburg), the SDA State Health and Temperance Society in West Virginia was organized.

      In 1891 D.C. Babcock became president of the West Virginia Conference and initiated an aggressive program of evangelism. During his administration SDA work was opened in the eastern counties of the state and by August 1892, 38 persons had been baptized. In either 1891 or 1892 the first SDA primary school in West Virginia was operated successfully at Newark. This school was enlarged several times in the course of its brief history. In 1892 the West Virginia Monitor (later called the West Virginia Review), which began in 1890 as a small four-page bimonthly published by the state tract society, became the official organ of the conference, and continued in this capacity until 1903, then the Atlantic Union Gleaner became the official organ for the new union conference and its constituent conferences, which included West Virginia. In 1894 the Newark and Parkersburg churches were organized and admitted to the conference, and early in 1895 the companies at Debby (Mason County) and Huntington (Cabell County) were organized into churches. Many of these early churches have been disbanded, other have merged with nearby churches, and still others have been reorganized after having been disbanded for a time.

      In 1894 the counties of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington in western Maryland were transferred to the West Virginia Conference. Later in 1903 these three counties and “three others closely allied, in the state of West Virginia [Morgan, Berkely, and Jefferson counties], were transferred to the Chesapeake Conference” (Atlantic Union Gleaner 2:576, Dec. 16, 1903). When the Columbia Union was organized in 1907, the West Virginia Conference boundary lines were again changed so that the conference territory coincided with the territory of the state of West Virginia. In 1917 the conference boundaries were changed to their present positions.

      The years between 1900 and 1910 were a period of internal as well as external difficulties of the West Virginia Conference. During this time SDA ministers were vigorously opposed by many Protestant clergymen; the holy flesh heresy diminished church membership; and the conference was burdened for a time with a debt of more than $3,000 and had eight presidents in rapid succession. In 1907 the membership of the conference reached the low figure of 170 members. However, with the exception of the first years of the present century, the membership has increased steadily since the conference was organized, as the following statistics indicate: in 1887, 92 members; in 1897, 229; in 1907, 170; in 1917, 311; in 1927, 437; in 1937, 760; in 1947, 1,012; in 1957, 1,542; in 1964, 1,812, in 1974, 2,150; in 1993, 2,452.

      In 1942 the former Terrapin Park, in Parkersburg, a three-acre tract of land, was bought and transformed into a permanent site for camp meetings. In 1945 the first building was constructed on the grounds under the direction of W.B. Hill, conference president. In 1961 an auditorium with a capacity of 1,000 was erected at a cost of $17,500. The same year an additional three acres were acquired for family tents and parking at a cost of $15,000.

      In the 1940s, R.L. Boothby and L.R. Mansell conducted evangelistic campaigns in Charleston, Bluefield, and Huntington.

      From 1947 to 1953 five new churches were added to the conference: Beckley, 1947, after and evangelistic series of meetings by J.R. Johnson; Logan, 1949, after meetings by A.C. Marple; Richwood, 1950; Masontown, 1952 and Grafton, 1953, after public meetings by John E. Hoffman. Since then churches have been organized in Lewisburg, 1956, and Indore, 1962, as the result of branch Sabbath schools begun by the Princeton and Charleston churches, respectively.

      From 1970 to 1974, four new churches were added: Mountaintop, 1970; Spencer, 1971; Williamson, 1973; Point Pleasant, 1974.

      On Aug. 22, 1971, after considerable balloting and selection from among 33 names, it was unanimously voted by the Conference Executive Committee to recommend the new name “Mountain View Conference of Seventh-day Adventists” to be comprised of the territory of West Virginia (minus the three easternmost counties) and Allegany and Garrett counties in the state of Maryland.

      A campground located in Huttonsville was purchased in 1974.