SEC Camp Meeting 2019 – Closing Weekend
28th June 2019
Last weekend saw the culmination of a week's Camp Meeting for the South England Conference (SEC). Starting on Monday 17 June, the closing Sabbath which drew several hundred more people ended on a spiritual high with a baptism and an afternoon graduation service for those trained in personal and public evangelism.
With various age groups being catered for, here's a summary of the weekend's events:
Friday evening marked the 37th annual Communion Service to be held at the SEC Camp Meeting and a special occasion it proved to be for all those fortunate enough to be in attendance.
Those gathered to celebrate the occasion included British Union Conference (BUC) President, Pastor Ian Sweeney and special guest speaker for the week ‒ Dr David McKenzie.
The praise team ushered the members into the presence of God with their uplifting special item – 'Total Praise'. This was followed by an equally empowering message of hope delivered by SEC President Pastor Emmanuel Osei who told the audience, "your life may be a mess today, but the communion service offers an opportunity for introspection, repentance, confession of sin and ultimately redemption through the blood of Christ." The Chitans touched the hearts and minds of those in attendance in declaring that "He (Jesus) is alive and is coming back for you."
By the end of this special service there were no doubts as to Jesus being "a Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper and a Light in the darkness."
On the Sabbath morning, SEC Sabbath School Director, Pastor Michael Mbui, challenged churches to be more effective in ministry through spiritual nurture, fellowship, mission and church growth endeavours. This was practically demonstrated through a number of personal testimonies of various projects making an impact in local communities within the SEC.
In his final message to the SEC campers on the Sabbath, Dr McKenzie, who has become a much-loved son of the SEC community, told members to "Hold on, for God will turn things around." He said: "Fasten yourself to the Lord, remember where He has taken you from and never give up for God has called you to finish this race and will not let you down."
Pastor Osei thanked Dr McKenzie and singing evangelists, The Chitans, for their ministry during the week while also making presentations to all other invited special guests who officiated in the children, teen and youth departments.
Fresh from his travels to Ghana, Pastor Sweeney offered a prayer of thanksgiving for all that had transpired during this special spirit-filled week.
As members sung "you are here, turning lives around, I worship you, I worship you", it was clear for all to see that the presence of God had truly been at this year's Camp Meeting and will long live in the memories and hearts of those who came.
The young adults experienced the culmination of a week-long series of workshops on mental health, led by Joden Joseph. Joden explained the need for self-compassion and shared how this is something that has been overlooked within the church community. Participants were encouraged to reach out and make use of Christian mental health services, such as Cornerstone Counselling, in order to strive towards good mental health.
It felt like a new tradition was formed today, when a get-together was arranged for the over 30s within the young adult community. The group headed to a local chip shop for what was dubbed 'fish-and-chip-Friday', and laughed, joked and shared common experiences in a nearby park, all the while fending off seagulls who were eyeing a free lunch! Everyone who came along had a great time, and are looking forward to doing it again.
The communion service on Friday evening was enhanced to include foot-washing. Traditionally, young people are encouraged to participate in foot-washing within their chalets, prior to partaking in the communion service. But this year, the leadership decided they wanted to bring both elements together during the service, and it was a resounding success. SEC President Pastor Emmanuel Osei joined the young adults to help officiate in the service, and Pastor Dewaine Frasier reminded those present that when they truly know their worth in God's sight, they will truly be able to serve like Jesus.
Sabbath at Camp Meeting was a high day for the young adults. There was a sense of saving the best for last, and Pastor Frasier continued his high energy, dynamic preaching by encouraging those present to move from being fans of Jesus to being followers of Jesus. Young people responded to his invitation to follow Jesus, and three individuals chose to solidify their commitment by choosing to be baptised.
Later in the afternoon Pastor Osei held a time to talk with the young adults, to gain their insight and point of view on how future Camp Meetings should be.
This was followed by a concert, the annual showcase of talent within the SEC. Those present were blessed in song, spoken word and mime and left wanting more.
The Teens' programme also ended on a spiritual high. During the week teens addressed the epidemic of knife and gun crime in Friday's 'Let's talk about it' discussion. They were joined by special guests, Joden Joseph and Ambrose Dawson, who work and talk with young people caught up with gang culture and violence. Although not admitting direct involvement, many teens gave their insight, experience and concerns on a subject in which 80% of individuals killed are under 17.
Following the discussion, Ambrose shared his experiences of growing up in a rough neighbourhood, the role of God in his life, and his current work in prison with young men and women. He asserted "God always has your back", and made an impassioned plea for the group to put their trust "solely in Him." The morning session ended with a prayer for protection and safety.
When the teens returned for the evening service the room had been transformed for Communion. Chairs had been rearranged in semi-circular rows, with tables illuminated by candlelight. In his message 'Hidden Beauty', Pastor Samuel Elias Reyes used Isaiah 53 and a film depicting the Crucifixion to outline the infinite extent of God's love for mankind. Following the Communion service, teens and staff mingled and shared in an Agape Feast.
On the Sabbath morning they discussed body dissatisfaction and social media. Despite the benefits of increased connectivity with people around the world, they highlighted the often-negative impact on self-worth. Many girls commented on being exposed to an avalanche of cosmetically, surgically, and digitally altered images, and sometimes feeling the need to compete with these false representations of beauty. Several addressed the pressure to post pictures on social media for others to 'like'. "If liked, they are happy, if not they can feel unattractive and ugly" said one attendee, which can lead to anxiety, depression, eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Teens repeatedly reminded each other that 'man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart'.
Teens' guest speaker, Pastor Reyes gave his final presentation on Luke 24:31. He prayed that God would continue to speak to the SEC teens beyond Camp Meeting, and like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, for God to open their spiritual eyes to recognise Jesus. He concluded, "God has a purpose for you, bigger than yourselves." Every young person was then handed a 'Commitment Card' and challenged to be agents of change in the UK.
Throughout the week guest speaker Pastor Christian Karlsson from Sweden presented up-to-date research that shows the original biblical diet will protect our physical health as well as our brain health. Some of the points he raised were:-
SEC Heath Ministries director, Dr Chidi Ngwaba added that stress has also been shown to increase the risk of dementia. Regularly eating blueberries, greens, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and turmeric etc are great ways to reduce the probability of contracting brain diseases.