Sands Harvey Lane was an evangelist, missionary to the British Isles, and conference president in Indiana, New York and Illinois.
Sands Harvey Lane was born in Bedford, Calhoun County, Michigan, in 1844, the third of four children born to Harvey and Huldah J. (Young) Lane (born ca. 1817). Sometime after his sister Arvilla (Lane) Bacheller (1837-1911) was born in Genoa, New York, the Lanes moved to Michigan where Elbert B. (1841-1881) and Sands Harvey (1844-1906) were born. The Lane family “embraced present truth” through the evangelistic labors of Joseph Bates in 1854.1
As a teenager Sands worked as a typesetter at the Review and Herald press in Battle Creek, Michigan. Early in life, he lost a foot and part of his leg due either to disease or an accident. Like Fletcher Byington, his one-legged colleague at the press, Sands would later benefit from the prosthesis that Uriah Smith patented in 1863. On those occasions when Lane and Smith were in Battle Creek for the communion service, they washed each other’s feet, both natural and prosthetic.
In 1868, Elbert persuaded Sands to become a part-time evangelist with him in Indiana. For the next nine years (1868-1877), the two brothers held numerous three-day evangelistic series around the state. In the words of Sands Lane: “We used to run the tents…that is we kept them on the run,” preaching “the [message], clear, straight, plain and direct.”2
In 1874, when he was thirty, Sands married Permelia Hilliard, the daughter of Henry and Lucy (Byington) Hilliard, who in 1859 had followed their brother-in-law, John Byington, from upstate New York to Michigan.
Early Career in Indiana and the British Isles
In 1877 Sands Lane was elected president of the Indiana Conference, where he served for seven years (1877-1884). From 1885 to 1889, the Lanes went to the British Isles, where they built on the foundation laid by John and Maggie Loughborough, pioneer missionaries there from 1879 to 1883.
Lane joined the English evangelist John H. Durland to hold tent and hall meetings in England and Ireland. Discovering that the rainy climate caused mildew and rotted canvass tents, the men used linen tents instead. During their meetings at Risely, forty miles from London, in the summer of 1885, Ellen White sent assurances that God would bless their efforts. Soon 300 people were attending evening meetings, and White joined them in August.
The following month Lane attended the European Missionary Council held in Basel, Switzerland. There he taught three Bible study classes in English while James Ertzenberger translated his message into German for one group in a nearby tent and August C. Bourdeau translated it into French for another group in an adjacent tent.
Conference President in New York and Illinois
When the Lanes returned to the United States in 1889, Sands was elected president of the New York Conference (1889-1895). During a camp meeting held from June 11 to 18, 1889, in Rome, Ellen White, A. T. Jones, and E. J. Waggoner preached the message of righteousness by faith. While some rejected their message, Lane thanked them for preaching “the wonderful themes of justification by faith, the righteousness of God, and the consecration to God and His cause which our work demands at the present time.” He rejoiced that “as these themes were presented, light, joy, happiness and peace of soul seemed to take possession of the meeting.”3
Lane next served as the president of the Illinois Conference (1895-1899) as well as a member of the Board of the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association (1899-1903), of which he became president (1899-1900). In the spring of 1900 Lane chaired the Committee on Relief of the Schools that voted to sell 300,000 copies of Ellen White’s book Christ’s Object Lessons (published jointly by the Review and Herald and Pacific Press) to relieve the debts on many Adventist academies and colleges. The following year at the General Conference of 1901, Lane strongly supported forming union conferences, specifically the Southern Union, but also other unions around the world wherever they were needed.
From 1901 to 1903 he was elected president of the Board of Trustees of the General Conference Association and also served as president of the Southern Illinois Conference (1902-1903). In 1903 the Lanes returned to the New York Conference where Sands once again served as president for three years (1903-1906). In 1903 his book, Our Paradise Home: The Earth Made New and the Restoration of All Things, was published by the Review and Herald press in Washington, D.C. (In 1923 the Review and Herald enlarged and republished it under the title Our Paradise Home: God’s Purpose as Outlined in History and Prophecy from Paradise Lost to Paradise Restored).
As long as he enjoyed good health, Sands Lane continued to be a wide-ranging preacher and a sound administrator. His round moon face beamed with a perpetual smile that endeared him to Adventist youth as he held them spellbound with his stories about the pioneers of the message, using vivid images and enthusiastic gestures as he stood in the pulpit leaning against his cane. Between 1902 and 1906, Ellen White sent him three letters urging him to be more earnest in his sermons, to show more tenderness, and to manifest a living faith. Whatever his faults, however, she referred to Lane as “a true child of God.”
During a camp meeting work bee in June 1906 near Salamanca in western New York, President Lane was helping a crew burn several acres of brush to build the new Tunesassa Industrial School (the forerunner of Fernwood Academy) when he suffered a heat stroke and lost his sight. His last recorded words were a prayer: “O Lord, thou knowest I have tried to be faithful. I have made many mistakes, but do thou forgive.”4 Sands Harvey Lane died on August 19, 1906, in Bangor, New York, at age 62. A. T. Jones preached at his funeral, which was held in the Dime Tabernacle in Battle Creek, Michigan. His body was buried next to that of his sister Arvilla (Lane) Bacheller in the Bacheller family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.
In service exceeding half a century, Sands Harvey Lane ministered as an evangelist in Indiana, a missionary to the British Isles, and as a conference president in Indiana, New York and Illinois.
“The Death of Elder S.H. Lane.” Adventist Review, September 6, 1906.
“Lane, Sands Harvey.” 1996. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Second Revised Edition. Volume 1, A-L. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996.
“Lane, Sands Harvey.” Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon, eds. The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013.
Lane, Sands H. Our Paradise Home: The Earth Made New and the Restoration of All Things. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1903.
Lane, Sands H. Our Paradise Home: God’s Purpose as Outlined in History and Prophecy from Paradise Lost to Paradise Restored. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association., 1923.
Lane, Sands H. “Signs of the Times: Our Able Minister and the Work He Is Doing; Will You Assist Him?” Chicago: By the Author, 188_.
Lane, Sands H. “The New York Camp-Meeting.” Signs of the Times, July 15,
Spalding, Arthur W. Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists. Volume 2. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1962
Spalding, Arthur W. Origin and History of Seventh-day Adventists. Volume 3. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1962
Michigan. Calhoun County. 1850 United States Census. Roll: M432_348. Page: 101B. Image: 201.
Strayer, Brian E. J. N. Loughborough: The Last of the Adventist Pioneers. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2014.
Strayer, Brian E. 2018. John Byington: First General Conference President, Circuit-Riding Preacher, and Radical Reformer. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2017.
Strayer, Brian E. Where the Pine Trees Softly Whisper: The History of Union Springs Academy. Union Springs, NY: Published by the Alumni Association and printed in Benton Harbor, Michigan by Patterson Press, 1993.
Whidden, Woodrow W. E. J. Waggoner: From the Physician of Good News to Agent of Division. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2008.
White, Arthur L. Ellen G. White, Volume 3: The Lonely Years, 1876-1891. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1984.
White, Ellen G. Ellen G. White to Sands Lane. April 12, 1896. Letter 61, 1896. Center for Adventist Research. James White Library. Andrews University.
White, Ellen G. Ellen G. White to Sands Lane. November 26, 1902. Letter 185, 1902. Center for Adventist Research. James White Library. Andrews University.
White, Ellen G. Ellen G. White to Sands Lane. April 12, 1903. Letter 162, 1903. Center for Adventist Research. James White Library. Andrews University.
White, Ellen G. Ellen G. White to Mrs. S.H. Lane. November 15, 1906. Letter 362. 1906. Center for Adventist Research. James White Library. Andrews University.
1850 United States Census, Calhoun County, Michigan, Roll: M432_348; Page: 101B; Image: 201, HeritageQuest Online, accessed April 25, 2018, https://www.ancestryheritagequest.com; S.H. Lane, “Hortense E. Hayes obituary,” Adventist Review, March 9, 1905, 23; Michigan Death Records, Hortense E. Hayes, http://cdm16317.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/p129401coll7/id/564234, accessed April 25, 2018; C.M. Sanders, “Arvilla M. Bachellor [sic] obituary,” Adventist Review, June 22, 1911, 23; Michigan Death Records, Arvilla M. Bacheller, http://cdm16317.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p129401coll7/id/703651, accessed April 25, 2018; “The Death of Elder S.H. Lane,” Adventist Review, September 6, 1906, 20.↩
“Thirty-sixth Meeting,” General Conference Daily Bulletin, March 7, 1899, 169-170.↩
S. H. Lane, “The New York Camp Meeting,” Signs of the Times, July 15, 1889, 427.↩
“Death of Elder S.H. Lane,” 20.↩