Gladstone Camp Meeting Coming Home ... Again

September 01, 2011 | Greg Brothers

Go to Gladstone Camp Meeting. Stand in the main plaza. Wait long enough, and you'll see just about anyone who's ever been an Adventist. That's not literally true, of course, but sometimes it seems that way.

"Camp meeting is like a family gathering," says Al Reimche, Oregon Conference president. "Lots of people come who don't attend church anymore, but this is where they come back to reconnect."

One of those who came back this year was the evening speaker, Dwight K. Nelson. Thousands know him as the pastor of the Pioneer Memorial Church; hundreds of thousands have heard him speak on TV. But in the Oregon towns of Roseburg, Fall Creek, Myrtle Point, Coquille and Salem, they remember when he was their pastor. In fact, Nelson was ordained at the Gladstone Camp Meeting in 1979.

"The theme for this year's camp meeting is ‘Coming Home ... Again,' and it's like this theme was chosen for us," says Nelson. "We have so many friends here in Oregon; we have so many memories of camp meeting on these grounds. It is truly an honor to share this festive occasion."

People Watching

Even if you didn't recognize someone at camp meeting, you could often identify them by their clothing. Cleaning staff wore orange polo shirts; hospitality wore blue; security wore red; maintenance wore green; evangelism training camp wore apricot; Big Lake Youth Camp wore burnt orange. Black polo shirts were tricky; they could mean a pastor, a staff member for Juniors (grades 5–6) or a member of the Oregon Adventist Men's Choir. But if you saw someone dressed as a cowboy, they definitely worked in the children's divisions. Most striking of all were the purple and green T-shirts worn by teens (grades 7–8). These T-shirts proclaimed "No place like home."

But along with them and everyone else at camp meeting, you would have seen Jesus, maybe in a sermon, maybe in the music of the Oregon Adventist Men's Choir, maybe in the kindness of the stranger who shared their umbrella on Sabbath morning. Or maybe you saw Him in the eyes of an old friend — someone you'd not seen in years, but ran into in the main plaza.

"I want us to connect with each other at camp meeting," says Reimche. "I want everyone to feel as though they're part of the family. But more than that, I want everyone to connect with Christ. I want them to see that He's in love with them. And if that happens, then camp meeting is worth it."

And if you stood there in the plaza this year, then you saw that it was worth it.