Camp Meeting Goers Step Forward for God in Gladstone
July 15 through 19 found the campgrounds in Gladstone buzzing with the 84th year of Gladstone Camp Meeting. Themed "Here Am I ..." the event's seminars and programming were based on the biblical concept of giving ourselves to God in whatever form we are and asking Him to use us as He knows best.
The week started out warm — actually it was just plain hot, especially for Northwesterners, who start to feel the heat when the temps rise above 80 F. With temperatures in the mid-90s, reminders went out to keep hydrated and to watch for symptoms of heat-related illness. The hydration carts, information in the daily newspaper, announcement slides, and the verbal reminders from staff and volunteers seemed to help, and most campers did a great job at staying hydrated and cool.
In the Children’s Amphitheater, the water slide was a popular attraction, as were misters set up to provide a cooling mist to whomever walked near. The Snack Shack did a rousing business in ice cream, sorbet, smoothies, snow cones and everything else cold. And the older kids enjoyed trips to the nearby aquatic park.
Tuesday evening’s first adult meeting of the week started with a bang as Plaza Pavilion speaker David Asscherick took to the stage and blessed those listening and watching with his energy and frankness as he spoke on "The Covenant God." The crowds continued to grow as the week wore on, with many of the children’s divisions reporting higher-than-usual numbers.
In the earliteen division, Jon Griebel invited those in attendance to dedicate their lives to God during the Friday evening program. More than 70 earliteens stepped forward and wrote their names on the “Wall of Remembrance” at the front of the tent.
Over in the Sandpiper Building, the 7- and 8-year-olds were making pillows for refugees in South Sudan. Under cover of the One-Day Church building, the annual Used Book Sale sold more than 1,600 inches of used books, with proceeds going to Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS).
There also was something rather unusual that happened on campus this year — a dramatic increase in baldness that became more prominent as the week wore on. Age was no discriminator, as both young and old, male and female, appeared to have lost their hair during camp meeting.
It turns out that these dedicated souls lost their hair for a very important and special reason: in support of one of their own Oregon Conference pastors. Nick Jones, Gateway and SonRise churches pastor, wasn’t at camp meeting this year. He spent his camp meeting week in chemotherapy for six hours a day. Jones has cancer and is facing it head-on, so others decided to show their support by shaving their heads too. At last count, more than 40 people shaved their heads to show their support.
So many people celebrated this year’s theme in special ways. Whether it was dedicating their lives to God for the first time or again, showing support for a friend in need, or giving someone a cold drink, everyone presented themselves and said, “Here am I.” Hopefully everyone else will do the same throughout this year, and the Oregon Conference will see them again, or for the first time, at Gladstone Camp Meeting next year.