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Wyoming Camp Meeting is the Real Deal »
For Gordon Henderson, a church member from Casper, Wyoming the Mills Spring Ranch annual camp meeting event is the real deal. He has been attending this event for 19 years. “In the past, we had real camp meetings and this one is a real one, not just a weekend gathering. We come to the camp and stay in tents, RVs and cabins,” he remarked. This camp meeting is perhaps the last such event left in our churches in America, Henderson believes.
There are similar camp meetings in Colorado, such as Cowboy Camp Meeting, with a large tent, not often seen elsewhere (see above). The 2019 convocation of Seventh-day Adventists in Wyoming brought about 300 believers from nearly every church in the state.
The 2019 meetings, July 16-20, were coordinated by ministers who currently look after 24 congregations in Wyoming and its theme was, "We Shall See Him.".
“We love coming to these meetings, even though we have to drive several hours to Casper," said one attendee who is seen at MSR year after year. Many come to renew their friendships and revive their spiritual lives by listening to inspiring messages and attending topical seminars. “It’s worth coming to this camp meeting in Wyoming,” said Ed Barnett, president of the Rocky Mountain Conference.
Ron Halvorsen Jr., featured speaker and a well-known pastor to many participants, is frequently invited to Casper. Today, he serves as president of the Ohio Conference. “I’ve attended and preached in several camp meetings here at Mills Spring Ranch. It’s nostalgic to be coming here,” he told NewsNuggets.
He reminisced about coming to MSR as a student with his future wife. “We worked at the camp and got engaged here, and later married in the Worland church. In many ways, it’s like coming home. My wife, Buffy, was writing wedding invitations here as we were watching over archery,” he recalled and shared some hearty laughter. As Barnett Introduced Halvorsen, he noted his focus on Jesus Christ. “I have known Ron for 30 years," he said. "The way he makes Jesus come alive has blessed many of us,” he said.
According to Shayne Vincent, pastor of Casper Seventh-day Adventist Church, organizing the gathering under the direction of Steve Nelson, a pastor of four churches in the Northwest Wyoming district, required months of preparation. The organizers relied on the experience of a former Northern Wyoming district pastor, Chuck Gadway. “It takes a good six months to get everything ready, but everything went smoothly. Chuck did a good job of setting us up ahead of time,” Vincent added. Looking ahead, Shayne said that camp meeting participants “would like to have more evening meetings for the kids. We’ll have to work on that for next year.”
As in previous years, though the camp was mostly attended by “seasoned church members,” as described by one of the attendees, the 2019 meeting recognized a need to provide a program for youth and children. Joe Martin, former literature ministry leader for RMC and now pastor of the Loveland Church, provided activities for the youth. Alongside him were Cynthia Pedersen from Wheatland, and Cara Jagitsch from Cheyenne, who provided programming for the younger children.
Pedersen shared her comments on the camp meeting. “Everybody is very friendly, and it’s a beautiful setting up here and it always smells so good with the pine trees. The food has been great this year,” she shared.
During the day, Cynthia was busy teaching the young attendees, so she was only able to attend the evening meetings. “We’ve been taking our kids, and [Ron Halvorsen Jr.] has been very dynamic, even keeping the little one’s attention.
Through applause, attendees expressed their gratitude to Suzanne Hafar for her relentless efforts toward providing direct access to literature and foodstuffs offered by the Adventist Book Center. The Denver-based ABC will close at the end of 2019. On behalf of RMC, Ed Barnett expressed appreciation for the service Suzanne has given to the churches in the region.
RMC ministry leaders and church pastors presented seminars during the week, among them DeeAnn Bragaw, who gave morning worships, Eric Nelson and Mickey Mallory who talked on spiritual life, and Jim Burr, an astronomer based in Colorado, who gave a special feature on astronomy.
On Sabbath, a mid-afternoon special feature included testimonies by participants in literature ministry, an invitation to engage in prison ministry, and a presentation on how local church communication can benefit from a relevant approach.
Attendees were touched by the witness given by Teresa Morlan, provider of quality meals, along with husband Derek, during the camp meeting, who witnessed to a Walmart bakery employee as she purchased baked goods from her for camp meeting. The Walmart employee brought her family to one of the meetings and was impressed by what she heard. "Now it's your turn to nurture the contacts here in Casper," Teresa said, appealing to local church members.
Before the camp meeting ended with a powerful sermon by Halvorsen, participants were treated to a concert by The King’s Heralds. Loved by many for decades, the Voice of Prophecy media quartet offered a mix of “Adventist oldies” and favorites for many a church member.
Regarded as a success, the Wyoming Camp Meeting at MSR will bring church members again next year, motivating the believers for mission and preparing them for Jesus’ return.
--Rajmund Dabrowski, text and photos