Southwest Region Conference Camp Meeting 2018
In spite of abbreviated days, our 2018 “Returning to the Old Paths” Camp Meeting held something for everyone. The theme selected from Jeremiah 6:16 provided the backdrop. In his welcome found in the introduction of the printed program, President Calvin L. Watkins qualifies the old paths as “the standard Three Angels’ Message that has brought us this far.” In Friday evening’s welcome, he would add “The more we move from the old paths, the more the devil can creep into our souls.” Throughout the four days, several speakers would echo that same sentiment. The speakers’ series started with Pastor Tyrone Douglas’ “Righteousness by Faith” and ended with Pastor Helvius Thompson’s “The Holy Spirit.”
The program followed the format of camp meetings of previous years with the early morning devotions, workshops, the noon power hour and the evening service. The “War Room,” a spacious canvas tent, made its second consecutive appearance on the campground. Within that enclosure of an outer and an inner chamber, Pastors Truman Bryant and Michael Mitchell welcomed campers with presentations on the power of prayer and the need for more unity among and within our churches. Testimonies and campers recording their prayer requests onto slips of paper deposited into a prayer box followed. Many then entered one of two curtained ‘rooms’ where they stood, knelt or sat on pillows and used their finger to write their petitions into a raised sandbox followed by their ‘erasing’ the petition—the act signifying Jesus’ forgiving and eradicating the offense as if it never existed. These prayer requests would supplement the ones received during the 11 a.m. Sabbath service; culminating in the 8:30 bonfire on Saturday night.
In lieu of the conventional approach to teaching Sabbath School, Southwestern University’s President Ken Shaw utilized a series of slides depicting the university’s involvement in recent humanitarian efforts as evident in the biology professor who took his boat to rescue many during Hurricane Harvey. Student government president Samson Sembeba shared how WWJD? is a part of his daily routine. “In whatever I do I try to incorporate my Lord’s take on the matter; then I proceed.”
Prior to introducing worship speaker Dr. Daniel Honoré, Northeastern Conference President, President Watkins recognized Sister Doris Jones, appropriately dubbed the ‘First Lady of Lone Star’ and the widow of President W.C. Jones, who had the vision to orchestrate the purchasing of the Lone Star Camp property. Honoré’s main text was from Ruth 1 and titled “Looking for Bread in All the Wrong Places.” From his message we gleaned: The Hebrew Bethlehem means ‘house of bread,’ while Judah means ‘land of praise.’ “God promised Israel bread for praise, but because God’s people abandoned Him by leaving the old paths and aligning themselves with the Moabites, God withdrew His blessing. When there is no bread in your house of bread, the temptation is to look for bread in the wrong place. Only after submitting to God can we pray Give us this day our daily bread. God’s bread of life can only be found in God’s house,” he passionately preached. His appeal reiterated the choice the Church has—a blessing or a curse.
Camp meeting had no shortage of music highlighted by the Sabbath afternoon concert featuring recording artist Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy. The concert, sandwiched between the choir festival and vespers, left its audience in awe as it swayed to the sometimes ‘upbeat’ gospel songs; sat while hardly able to contain themselves, stood and sang along with the artists, always responding to the songs’ messages and their accompanying rhythmic beat.
Pastors Tyrone Douglas and Helvis Moody led out with the youth and young adults’ ministries. The weekend return of Pastor James L. Black, Sr., for whom the youth center was named, was a welcomed voice. Our children’s ministries with Pastor Charles Sanders and his staff enjoyed an early Vacation Bible School with the theme “Exploring Bibleland.” In that setting the children enjoyed “activities that focused on character-building Bible truths.”
While Singles led by Vera Ragland closed out Saturday with their Caribbean social, on Sunday, Pathfinders officially closed out the 2018 Camp Meeting with their drill competition. Our visionary president has already announced the 2019 theme “We’ve Come This Far by Faith.” We pray for that fulfilment as we look forward to ‘ten days of a united camp meeting.’
Correspondent: Evelyn Edwards