Image Credit: Tylor Watts

Gladstone Hosts Very Different Camp Meeting

The words "camp meeting" have brought folks from Oregon, Washington and beyond to Gladstone for more than 90 years. They come for spiritual refreshment, for inspiration and for Pronto Pups. They come to pitch their tents beside the same families they’ve camped beside “since we were kids.” They come to buy cases of Loma Linda and Worthington foods at the Adventist Book Center's yearly sales. They bring their lawn chairs and sit on the front row to be sure and catch every word of the evening speaker’s message.

Some come for the music — and are never disappointed. Others come to be with friends — and discover a new walk with Jesus during an afternoon meeting. Many come to be sure their children will have happy camp meeting memories.

Camp meeting, and especially Gladstone Camp Meeting, is part of our Northwestern Adventist DNA.

Then came COVID-19 — and some very long planning meetings.

“We have to have camp neeting!”

“We cannot cancel!”

“What can we do online?”

“Can Elder Rojas still be our main speaker?”

Those, and several thousand other questions, made for eloquent prayers and intense conversations as conference leaders tackled the challenge of putting on both Spanish and English camp meetings in the midst of the government’s “stay at home” restrictions.

The result is more than 140 separate online events that were viewed by thousands of participants. Most of our viewers watched from Oregon and Washington, but many checked in from Pakistan, Brazil, Panama, New Zealand, Australia, France and half of the United States.

Children from preschool through juniors did crafts, played games, sang along and shared stories during the Rocky Railroad programs for kids. Youth “binged Jesus” with Jarod Frost and an incredibly talented group of teenage musicians. Young adults led their own series of meetings and outreach activities, culminating in a “drive-in” worship at Gladstone. The adults? Seminars, morning devotionals, afternoon adventures and evening worship from the Holden Center.

José Rojas spoke six times for the 2020 Gladstone Digital Camp Meeting, each time with words that came like bugle calls to action. “We must not do church like we have been,” he challenged us. “God did not call us to debate and argue, He called us to act. He comes challenging us to serve as He served.”

It wouldn't be camp meeting without Pronto Pups and so it was decided to hold a one-day drive through Snack Shack event. Food was purchased ahead online and picked up in Salem on Wednesday and from Gladstone on Thursday. The lines were long, as they always are for the Snack Shack, but Pronto Pups, shamburgers and kettle corn were as tasty as ever.

While many of us are honestly mourning the loss of the interactions that usually come with camp meeting, others are celebrating the chance to actually experience camp meeting.

We've heard from people who deal with disability and were able to experience camp meeting without the great difficulty that comes with moving around the Gladstone campus. We've heard from those who are introverts, and for them this is the perfect camp meeting model. And we've heard from camp meeting attendees who are getting to experience camp meeting alongside us from other parts of the world, something they wouldn't be able to do otherwise.

Whether you found yourself missing the crowds or loving the quiet control of watching on-demand, we hope you were blessed by this year’s Gladstone Camp Meeting.

If you’d like to watch Matthew Lucio’s seminar, "Communicating Christ in a World Who Doesn’t Know Him," or if you haven't yet been able to watch Rojas’ sermons at the evening meetings, it's definitely not too late. It’s still online, ready for you to watch and share with friends. In many ways, the 2020 Gladstone Digital Camp Meeting isn’t over — it’s just beginning!

You can find more information and learn about the speakers on our website at And you'll find playlists of all the camp meeting programs for kids and adults on our YouTube page. Just search for "Oregon Adventist."

From Our Attendees

I loved the TableTalk after! We’ve never experienced this with live camp meeting. I loved getting more of Pastor Rojas, “up close and personal." Nobody running to get in line for the after meeting snack shack. … I missed the social connection we always look forward to, with traditional camp meeting, but I believe my spiritual blessing was greater because my focus was more on the message than the social connection. … Yes, thanks again, Chad and Kari, and especially thanking Pastor Rojas. — Mary Lou Wescott

My 9-year-old always wanted to stay up and watch them too. Pretty sure he was stalling bedtime, but what better way to stall, right? Thank you, everyone who worked hard to make the meetings happen for the rest of us. — Anita Zinner Bates

I have really enjoyed the round table discussions at the end of the meeting each night. Thank you so much for doing this. I hope it continues into the next years of camp meeting. — Jyme Aime Forshee

The Pronto Pups are amazing! I thought I would have plenty to put in the freezer for later, but they were irresistible. I think I'm glad I can only get them once a year. — Athena Churchill Gray

Growing up on the Gladstone campgrounds every year (I'm 70 now!) even when it was 10 days long, our family was living out there all day, every day. This year, being "alone" and watching these wonderfully done videos, it made me think that even this could be God's working. We are part of a group, but that will not be the way we get to heaven. It will be our own personal relationship with Jesus that becomes more and more important. Maybe this year we get to step back and take this personal time to connect with just Jesus and me, to be more ready to serve and do what He wants with me in my own life. — Connie Wescott Stone

We are small, and sometimes we are confused. But God still is looking at us as the salt of the world. We are His heart, His hands, His voice. And although we cannot unite in person, God is calling us to look higher and unite in Spirit for His purpose in such a time like this. — Syl R. Teel

Featured in: September/October 2020