Camp meetings have played an important role in the establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In doing some research recently on camp meetings, I was inspired by the following two stories from some past camp meeting experiences.
It was during a camp meeting at Burton, Maine, that Ellen White gave her young heart to the Lord. Speaking of this experience she wrote: “Soon after this the Camp Meeting closed and we started for home. My mind was full of sermons, exhortations, and prayers we heard….The trees were more beautiful and the birds sang more sweetly than ever before; they all seemed to be praising the Creator in their songs.” Ellen White was in a few weeks to be baptized by immersion at the age of 14. In 1842, the same year Ellen White was baptized, the Millerite movement conducted its first camp meetings. Leroy Froom describes the use of camp meetings in the Great Advent Movement: “And giant Camp Meetings, together with tent, grove, and tabernacle meetings, began to herald the imminent advent in stentorian tones in the 1843 and 1844. Multiplied thousands now openly declared themselves to be Adventists in expectation.” Southern Tidings, April 12, 2012
From the very beginning the camp meeting has been associated with revival, with changed lives, with renewed dedication, with new goals.
The story is told of a woman who was preparing to go to camp meeting, as was her custom each year, when she overheard her husband and her son in conversation. She heard her son say, “Why does mom go to camp meeting every year? It doesn’t do her any good.” She was deeply hurt by this reference to her quick temper, and determined that this year it would be different.
When she came home with a new experience, all went well for a few days. Then a particularly exasperating situation arose. She was in the midst of a thorough house cleaning when word came that a relative was to visit them. Her husband expected the usual verbal explosion. But she said calmly, “That’s all right. We’ll just do the best we can.” The husband, surprised by her quiet reaction, left to bring home the relative’s trunk. As he carried it in, he struck an expensive chandelier and shattered it. Instinctively he waited for the expected verbal blast, which never came. She only said, “That’s all right, dear. It was an accident.” He carried the trunk upstairs and sat down upon it. He was still there a half hour later when his wife sought him out to ask, “What’s the matter? Are you sick?” “No,” he replied. “I was just trying to figure out what has happened to you.”
It reminds us of the words of the Lord’s servant. She says that the Lord Jesus “is effecting transformations so amazing that Satan, with all his triumphant boasting, with all his confederacy of evil united against God and the laws of His government, stands viewing them as a fortress impregnable to his sophistries and delusions. They are to him an incomprehensible mystery.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 18.
Is there a more likely, a more logical, place for such a transformation to begin than at camp meeting? Evidently not! Review and Herald 1968, May 30, Vol.45-22
I pray the privilege of attending camp meeting again this year in 2021 is not only interesting and refreshing, but transformational for each of us as well.
-Juanita Edge, Communication Director