Virtual Camp Meeting Sees Real Answers to Prayer
Washington Conference’s camp meeting planning team had two main choices early this spring: cancel camp meeting altogether or plan a virtual camp meeting.
“We found ourselves looking forward to trying something new for camp meeting, even if it was out of necessity,” says Craig Carr, Washington Conference vice president for administration. “We’re grateful for each person who joined us on this journey.”
The theme for the year, "Praying Continually: A Call to Prayer for the Family of God," had been chosen two years ago. It was a natural fit to transition to a virtual week of prayer featuring local pastors, musicians and prayer partners.
Prior to virtual camp meeting, the conference communication department tested the virtual worship experience by producing 13 weeks of "#SabbathStream." The audience responded best to 45–60 minute programs featuring hosts, music and a 20–25 minute sermon. For camp meeting, a 15-minute prayer time was added, during which people could text in prayer requests and praises.
On average, virtual week of prayer nightly reached 115 peak live viewers on Facebook, 111 concurrent viewers on YouTube and 485 eGuide subscribers (with a 35% open rate). A separate on-demand kids' program in English and Spanish was also offered with a daily average of 140 and 128 views, respectively.
One of the highlights was nightly giveaway drawings for books on prayer or spiritual growth, food gift cards, and cases of vegetarian food. To enter the drawings, viewers shared the livestream or participated in a social media challenge.
Viewers also had an opportunity to pitch an idea about how they would spend $1,000 in ministry. The audience voted for four finalists: family art therapy for food addictions, special needs, single parent and grocery assistance ministries. The winner received a $1,000 grant and the runners-up received $500, answering prayers for much-needed ministries.
One of the giveaways was an Andrews Study Bible. Pam Mann from Port Townsend, Washington, had been praying about getting her daughter Sarah a new Bible for her graduation from nursing school. She even asked God for a specific version of the Bible. “This is on my daughter’s wish list, and now I can give it to her,” Mann says about her name being drawn for the Bible.
Weeks before virtual camp meeting, Cindy Miller was delivering Sabbath School quarterlies in Everett, Washington.
“One of the members had moved and I didn’t realize it, so I rang the bell and left the quarterly on a bench [as COVID-19 distancing had already begun],” Miller says. “Before I got to the car, a lady came out, explained she was the new owner and asked if she could keep the quarterly. I said yes and have visited a time or two since. She told me later she had gone online and found out about the week of prayer online. All I can say is ‘praise the Lord.’ May His Spirit continue to work.”