It was Sunday evening, June 5, 2022, and for the first time since June of 2019, the pastors and staff of the Minnesota Conference gathered for camp pitch in the Maplewood Academy chapel. After calling the meeting to order, Minnesota Conference vice president for finance Gayln Bowers said, “We don’t know who will be here this week. But, most importantly, we know that God is here. It is His camp meeting, and He will bless.”

We were not to be disappointed. After general camp pitch on Monday, and departmental setup Tuesday, camp meeting opened Tuesday night in the Maplewood Auditorium with about 100 people in attendance. The evening meetings would average 110, with 150 gathering on Friday evening. There was an average of 50 attending the morning and late afternoon plenary sessions.

Nearly 430 worshippers attended the second service Sabbath morning, and about 100 attended the closing meeting Saturday night. There were 450 worshipping in the Hispanic tent, 130 young people attended the children’s and youth divisions, and  1,100 enjoyed the haystack fellowship lunch provided Sabbath afternoon. Though the attendance was not up to pre-COVID19 levels, it was evident that God was indeed present and was blessing.

The weather, which can be quite a challenge this time of the year, was perfect. Not one day was cold and rainy, or hot and humid. That was a real blessing.

Another blessing was the food. There was plenty of it and lots of variety, with many vegan and gluten-free choices. Jody Bertness did a great job!

The main speaker, Jose Cortez, spoke Friday night and Sabbath morning. Cortez’s message Friday night was an appeal to embrace the forgotten, the rejected and the untouchable. His early service message on Sabbath was based on Ecc. 11:1. The bread we are to cast upon the waters is Jesus. “Cast Jesus, not traditions, upon the people,” he said, “because whatever you cast, you’re going to get back!”

Cortez’s message during the second service encouraged us to look forward to the second coming of Jesus because 1) We will see Jesus face to face; 2) Jesus will do away with all the suffering and death of this world; 3) He has many good things prepared for us; and 4) Jesus will give back to us those who have passed away. Many were moved as musician Sean Lee concluded the message with the song “No More Night.”

Another musical highlight was just before Cortez’s message when the seven young girls of One Voice Ministry sang “He Knows My Name.” Sean Lee did a great job coordinating the music for the entire week, including the Sabbath afternoon music program.

The offering this year went for evangelism and the Maplewood Academy cafeteria capital campaign. The total came to $20,797, of which $17,625 was raised for Maplewood.

During the evening meetings, Mackenzie Kambizi, senior pastor at Minneapolis First and The Edge Christian Worship Center, spoke about hope in God in the midst of adversity. “Whatever the will of God gets you into, the grace of God will get you through,” he said.

On Thursday and Saturday night there was a time of special prayer for Karin Schultz and her daughter, Elizabeth, who passed away from cancer on Friday.

Thomas Toews, professor of religion at Union College, delivered a six-part series about how Adventists think and how we should think as Adventists.

Ray Valenzuela, pastor of the South Saint Paul Hispanic District, delivered the 11:00 am message Wednesday through Friday. He shared from his own experiences how he has learned the lessons of hope.

As this spiritual feast concluded we were indeed filled with hope and began to look ahead to the blessings God has in store for 2023.

Ken Mayberry pastors the Windom, Pipestone and Artichoke churches and the Marshall company in Minnesota.