During the last half of the nineteenth century, many historic events took place in Battle Creek, Michigan, during the formative years of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today, in the final years of the twentieth century, important things are again happening in Battle Creek.
Cereal City U.S.A., a themed attraction that highlights the history of the cereal industry in Battle Creek, opened its doors in June, 1998. The builders of Cereal City have made it interesting as well as authentic. For instance, they have made the corn flakes production line seem virtually as real as an actual plant tour. The machines, the noise, and the smell replicate an actual factory. There is also a winding exhibit called the "time line" which traces the history of cereal from the early beginnings of growing grain to the present. Within this time line part of Cereal City, Ellen White is featured along with displays of John Harvey Kellogg's memorabilia and artifacts from the old Battle Creek Sanitarium. Frequent mention is made of the Seventh-day Adventist church and Ellen G. White in two of the theaters that tell much of the cereal story.
Duff Stoltz, a long-time resident of Battle Creek, who has led Adventist History tours in Battle Creek and is an expert in cereal history, explains the connection between Cereal City, Ellen White, and the Seventh-day Adventist church.
"This connection stems from the fact that those who know Battle Creek history acknowledge that Seventh-day Adventist history is a part of Battle Creek's cereal history. You cannot get the full story of cereal without telling how and why it got started.
"In her visions from God, Ellen White was instructed in healthful living, and was given specific and practical directives for a healthful lifestyle. She not only presented these messages to the members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, but she helped to found the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was the forerunner of the world-wide medical work of the church. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg believed these messages and incorporated the ideas into his medical practice while he was superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
"His brother, W. K. Kellogg, took the idea of healthy breakfast foods and developed the ready-to-eat cereal industry. So you see, the cereal industry had its beginnings in the health messages God gave to Sister White."
Besides Cereal City U.S.A., two other attractions are underway in Battle Creek. Historic Adventist Village is being created that will portray life as it was in the last half of the 19th century and will contain many original or replicated buildings important to Adventist history in Battle Creek. When completed, Historic Adventist Village is expected to draw about 100,000 visitors a years, mostly non-Adventists. Lenard Jaecks, executive director of the village, calls the village "a three block evangelistic experience" because visitors will have many of the doctrines of the church explained as they tour the buildings.
Dr. Kellogg's Discovery Center opened on October 22. Located in the old Michigan National Bank building behind the Battle Creek Tabernacle, this outreach and educational facility has exhibits that tell the story of John Harvey Kellogg and allow visitors to experience some of the exercise machines he invented.
If you re traveling in the upper Midwest, you will enjoy visiting Battle Creek where there is a lot of history with a strong Adventist connection. For Battle Creek tour information, write to: Adventist History Tours, c/o Ralph Benedict, 183 Briars Farm Lane, Battle Creek, MI 49017, or call (616) 963-8744.
Richard Dower, is communication director of Lake Union Conference and editor of the Lake Union Herald.