On Friday morning, June 12, 2015, there was a buzz across the Maplewood Academy (MWA) campus in Hutchinson, MN as the finishing touches for the 2015 MN Conference of SDA Camp Meeting were being put into place. The anticipation of the arrival of attendees, the final touches on the auditorium and other parts of the campus awaiting the start of camp meeting at 7:00pm. The flowers were in place, the musical instruments were tuned, the audio-visual equipment ready to livestream and record the designated events, the classrooms equipped and decorated in anticipation of all attendees including the lower division participants, and the final briefing of the camp meeting staff before the big hour. All were ready for the beginning of camp meeting.
The time had come to say “Welcome to Camp Meeting”! The praise team, Christi Polensky Albertson, Clair Erickson, Jamie Madden, and Cheryl Saunders, led the congregation in hymns and songs of praise including the theme song, “We Have This Hope” by Wayne Hooper. At each of the Sabbath and nightly services, the theme song reinforced the emphasis on the Second Coming of Christ, the Blessed Hope.
During our time at Camp Meeting, we were blessed with phenomenal guest speakers who truly took us to a mountain top experience!
Elder Dan Jackson, President of the North American Division, spoke for the first weekend of camp meeting. Elder Jackson preached The Everlasting Gospel, The Three Angels Message. Throughout his sermons, he emphasized the immeasurable love that God has for all of His children. He (God) will go to great lengths to reach out to save us. “Christ will never abandon us”. We Have This Hope!
Elder Jose Rojas, President of MOVEmentum LLC, shared the Power of Hope, Faith, Love, and Light along with the call to Come and Follow Me. Elder Rojas challenged the congregation to bring family members and friends to the nightly meetings. The attendees were reminded that, “Jesus calls sinners and always keeps His promises.” Jesus has called us “to be disciples and to take up your cross and follow me.” All were strongly encouraged to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. “Tell somebody that Jesus is coming again!” We Have This Hope!
Dr. Elizabeth Talbot, Biblical Scholar and Speaker/Director for the Jesus101 Biblical Institute, was the final guest speaker for the second weekend. She passionately preached about the importance of rejoicing in Jesus. Dr. Talbot shared information that the outcome of earth’s existence is Satan loses and Jesus Wins! In two or three words, one can explain the end of the world respectively, Jesus Wins or Ta-Da! Jesus Wins! The sermons, Rejoicing in Jesus, Rejoice in Jesus Victory, and Rejoice in Jesus’s Faithfulness, concurred with the Bible that Jesus Christ is coming again soon to this earth to take His children home. We Have This Hope!
During the first weekend, the Hispanic Ministry Department held a one-day meeting in the Hispanic Tent located on the MWA campus. The guest speaker was Dr. Ramon Canals, the Director of the Ministerial Department and the Vice President for Hispanic Ministries for the North Pacific Union. Dr. Canals presented The Greatest Joy, Preparing the Way for the Lord, and The Spirit of Possibilities, equipping the listeners to experience the joy of Jesus along with the tools in winning souls for the Lord. We Have This Hope!
The Education Department of the MN Conference, led by Superintendent Mrs. Connie McCormick, presented Let The Children Come, an overview of Christian Education in Minnesota. It was a blessing to see children being dedicated to Jesus. Church schoolteachers, Sandy Daniels (Detroit Lakes School) and Tralese Syvertson (Anoka School), gave testimonies of their work and how the Lord used them and the children they work with to make a difference. Arielle Cady Flores, music teacher at Minnetonka Christian Academy (MCA) presented a violin musical testimony, Deep River by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, with piano accompaniment by Rayleen Hansen, principal of Southview Christian School. Students from across the Minnesota Conference presented additional music. Elder Hubert Cisneros, Director of Church Ministries and Youth Ministries for the Mid-America Union, challenged all listeners to have positive, spiritual interactions with and influences on children. Such interactions and influences will have implications for eternity. We Have This Hope!
Workshops and seminars were in abundance at camp meeting. The variety of workshops covered a myriad of subjects including spiritual, physical, emotional, and financial health and wellness; cross-cultural ministry interactions, faith and culture, How to study the Bible, prison ministry training, sexuality and the church, community services, finding Jesus, various aspects of evangelism, women’s and children’s ministries, to name a few.
There were activities for everyone including the children. The youth divisions had a global, mission-oriented activity that got them talking about social justice issues and broaden their awareness of homelessness. In response to global missions, the primary class raised $3000+ for Nepal during the camp meeting week. This was an amazing act of love shown by the attendees at Camp Meeting and friends who did not attend to do something for someone less fortunate.
Vanessa Pujic, Youth Pastor for the Minnetonka Church, coordinated the Young Adults Program. Special guests and workshop presenters were Dr. Conrad Vine, President of Adventist Frontier Missions, Buell Fogg and the U-Crew from Union College, Bill & Marilyn Glassford, mission directors for The Pine Ridge Mission along with other presenters.
The Minnesota Conference celebrates the various ministries actively sharing the love of Jesus in the State of Minnesota. During each service, a ministry was profiled as a testimony of the work that is occurring throughout the conference. The staff/students from Maplewood Academy and North Star Camp presented the Sabbath School programs, respectively, in addition to sharing information about their ministries.
The music ministry portion of camp meeting exemplified the diversity of the Minnesota Conference. The diversity reflected ethnicity, culture, age, regional, music genre along with various instruments. In addition to the aforementioned praise team, the U-Crew from Union College also led the praise and worship. The music throughout the week included Elizabeth Daniels (Detroit Lakes), Shaun Osvold (The Edge), Tim Olson/Hazel Myers/Jude Keller (Southview), Clair Erickson (Park Rapids), Charity Duran (The Edge) and Jose Rojas, Duo from the U-Crew, Kathy Parks (Buchanan, MI) with Christy Polensky Albertson (Andover) and Karin Polensky Schultz (Grand Rapids), Pastor Dustin Hall (Southview), Kari Morrison (Hutchinson), The Pilgrim Singers (Southview), and the A Capella Quartet (Minnetonka). The musicians were Jana Erickson (Park Rapids), Jude Keller & Tim Olson (Southview), Connie McCormick (Pathways), Loelle Tenold (Westview), and Cheryl Saunders (Southview). Camp meeting experienced a full music program organized and coordinated to glorify God and to prepare the hearts to receive the spoken word and the Living Word.
Additionally, on the second Sabbath of camp meeting the music department held a “Multi-Talent Program”, highlighting music in the Minnesota Conference. The Pilgrim Singers (Southview) sang in one of the dialects of Kenya, the camp meeting Kindergarteners sang songs highlighting their dedication to missions and said “hello” in various global languages, the Primary class sang “Make Me a Servant” and shared their Missions to Nepal fundraising activity, Kenny Cheever (Pathways) played “Moment by Moment” on the psaltery, the staff from North Star Camp presented a skit about Jesus and Peter, Javier Chuquimia (Northfield Hispanic ) played a piano medley of Christian songs, Pastor Dustin Hall (Southview) sang “Glorious Freedom” by the Gaither band, Nicole Hardt (Blackberry) powerfully sang “In Christ Alone,” The A Cappella Quartet (Minnetonka) sang “Amazing Grace” with much fervor, 9th grader Hayes Keller(Southview) sang the medley, “Blessed Be the Name/There is None Like You” while the Southview Youth Ensemble sang “Lord, I’m Available to You”. During the program, Pastors Ronald “Ron” Booth and David “Dave” Fish, who are “retiring” were acknowledged for their years of pastoral ministry and commitment to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the conclusion of the multi-talent program, Pastor Dustin Hall offered an invitation for someone to give his/her heart to Christ. The audience responded dedicating and rededicating their lives to Christ. In addition, there were those who came forward for baptism. We Have This Hope!
The highlight of camp meeting was the baptism of two souls who wanted to commit their lives to Christ and to follow Him. They had “Decided to Follow Jesus” and did not want to delay their public expression of the inward change that God had made in their lives. The two baptismal services occurred on the Thursday night and the second Sabbath afternoon during the Multi-talent Program of camp meeting. To God Be the Glory! We Have This Hope!
As the Camp Meeting progressed, there was a crescendo of enthusiasm and commitment to the Lord. There was a buzz at the camp meeting. The Adventist Book Center (ABC) presented opportunities to receive Christian literature and materials. Other entities held fundraisers to support their different ministries. Rain could not dampen this Spirit, the “State Bird” (mosquitoes) en masse could not interfere with this ardor, and the other challenges that may have existed at the encampment only brought resolve. The attendees had purposed in their hearts to follow Jesus all of the way.
The closing remarks were given by Elder Justin Lyons, President of the Minnesota Conference, challenged everyone to keep their EYES on Eternity [E= Evangelism, Y=Youth, E=Education, S=Spirituality], which is also the conference’s vision for the future. He presented a comparative analysis of the story of Nehemiah and his commitment to rebuilding Jerusalem to the story of this day and the commitment to persevere in the name of Jesus. “God wants us to move forward in faith.” “God is very capable of taking care of His people.” Elder Lyons stated, “Everyone who takes the name of Christ should be a witness to Him and of Him.” The conference president challenged the congregation to put their “EYES on Eternity and be a disciple.”
“We have this hope that burns within our hearts, Hope in the coming of the Lord…” because JESUS WINS!!!
Cheryl E. Roberts Saunders, PhD, Member of Southview SDA Church, Minneapolis, MN
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