Washington Members Walk Forward in Faith

September 04, 2021 | Church | Heidi Baumgartner

When Washington Conference announced plans for hybrid camp meeting, there was a range of reactions. From sorrow in not gathering together to confusion about what these hybrid plans would look like and a willingness to try something new.

The hybrid model sent a broadcast signal from Puyallup Adventist Church to 32 different church host sites around the conference region. The church partners could host a local event, bringing their communities for fellowship as well as the nightly broadcast.

The Lacey Church dug into their camp meeting experience. Plans started with the idea to sell traditional camp meeting food for a nightly church picnic. “We wanted to make it feel like you were at camp meeting as much as possible,” said Mona Griffith, Lacey Church office manager. “We encouraged people to bring blankets and chairs to sit in Tuttle Hall. We even had a used book sale and sold a lot of books!” The church used the food and book funds to benefit their church balcony building fund.

Most nights, 30-40 people would come for dinner — a make-your-own sandwich bar, French fries and ice cream were the most popular foods. Families with young children would come for supper, take their kids home to bed and then watch the program from home. Some church family members who hadn’t been to church during the pandemic came back and felt comfortable enough to keep coming back.

“I wouldn’t undo this experience because it was such a blessing,” Griffith said. “It was like a big camp out. People were happy, laughing and talking. It was way better than I thought it would be. We felt like we were all together as a big family at camp meeting.”

In all, 32 churches were host sites for the Sabbath programs, the nightly broadcast or both. Hundreds of devices connected for each program representing individuals, couples, families, small groups and local church gatherings.

Sheila Jordan, a member of South Tacoma Adventist Fellowship, invited a neighbor to her home to watch messages from Lee Venden, Ty Gibson and John Bradshaw. They especially liked the theme song reminding people that “Never Once” have we walked alone because Jesus was right there.

Bonnie Parle from the Burlington area faithfully logged onto Facebook each morning and evening to listen, interact with online friends and respond to the messages she heard. She’s anticipating getting baptized this fall.

In the church studio audience, Janice Cook came to her home church to participate in the camp meeting experience. The final Sabbath of camp meeting, she was baptized before her Puyallup church family and the entire Washington Conference camp meeting audience.

“Our Walking Forward with Jesus theme addressed the needs of our nation, our church, our families and ourselves,” said Craig Carr, Washington Conference camp meeting executive producer. “The church today has new opportunities for growth. As we step forward from the pandemic, relational losses, personal anxieties, and racial-political tensions [we can] step closer to the Kingdom of God.”

This year's camp meeting messages for children, teens and adults are archived at washingtonconference.org/playlist.