Sarepta Myranda I. Henry
Mrs. S. M. I. Henry, a writer and temperance worker, was an early leader of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). She also was an advocate of women's work in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, with emphasis on Christian motherhood and the home. Her father was a Methodist minister, and she often accompanied him on his itineraries. In 1861 she married James W. Henry, a teacher, who died 10 years later, leaving her with three small children.
When Mrs. Henry's son was enticed to enter a saloon in 1874, she set out to organize the Christian women of Rockford, Illinois, to promote temperance. She gradually broadened her work until she became the national evangelist for the newly organized Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
Mrs. Henry became ill in the 1880s and by 1895 was a complete invalid. In 1896, as a patient at Battle Creek Sanitarium, she accepted the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Soon afterward she was healed by prayer and resumed her WCTU work.
In 1898 Mrs. Henry conceived a plan for women's ministry and began lecturing to Adventist and non-Adventist audiences on the role of the mother in the moral education of society. She wrote many articles for the Review and Herald and for about two years had a special column. She also published several books and pamphlets. Perhaps the best known biography of her was written by her granddaughter, Margaret Rossiter White, entitled Whirlwind of the Lord.
When Mrs. Henry became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1896, Ellen White was in Australia. Mrs. White's son, W. C. White, met Mrs. Henry in Battle Creek in 1897 and carried back to Australia some of her publications to share with his mother. In a letter to Mrs. Henry, Ellen White wrote: "I would be very much pleased could I be seated by your side and converse with you in regard to the incidents of our experiences. I have an earnest desire to meet you. . . . Across the broad waters of the Pacific, we can clasp hands in faith and sweet fellowship."--Letter 9, 1898.
Mrs. Henry had not found it easy to accept the idea of a prophet in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. But after considerable reading, study, and investigation of Ellen White's life and writings, she was convinced of the genuineness of Ellen White's claims, and an analogy came to her mind in relating the gift of prophecy to the Bible. She compared the Spirit of prophecy to a telescope focused on the Word of God, enabling readers to see more clearly the principles of Scripture. The gift was not to take the place of the Bible, but to focus our eyes upon it with greater intensity and clarity.
Ellen White encouraged Mrs. Henry to continue in her work for women within and without the church and not to disconnect from the WCTU simply because she had become a Seventh-day Adventist. She believed Mrs. Henry could be a powerful witness to that organization, leading its leaders to additional truths such as the seventh-day Sabbath. Ellen White never had the opportunity of meeting Mrs. Henry in person, but they had mutual affection for each other and common understanding of their distinct roles. Letters between them continued to the time of Mrs. Henry's death in early 1900.