I remember attending the first SEC Camp Meeting in 1982. The venue was Rockley Sands near Poole in Dorset where we stayed in caravans. As a youngster, it was an exciting time for me meeting and engaging with other campers. Camp meeting became an annual event in the SEC calendar which many looked forward to with eager anticipation.
We moved to different sites to hold Camp Meeting and enjoyed the spiritual blessings. As the years rolled by the cost of Camp Meeting was reviewed. Members complained about the cleanliness of the chalets and wanted to explore different venues. We even considered holding Camp Meetings overseas.
As President, I met with campers 2 on successive years to ascertain the wish of members regarding the future of Camp Meeting. It was clear from these discussions that members wanted to continue experiencing Camp Meeting for the entire week as opposed to a weekend. They also were clear that the cost of Camp Meeting was quite onerous and that the cleanliness of the site not up to standard.
The pandemic struck in 2020 restricting us from having an on-site Camp Meeting. The South England Conference decided to hold a virtual Camp Meeting online. This proved to be successful as many more members both here and abroad were able to have that Camp Meeting experience in the comforts of their homes. Camp Meeting 2021 was also repeated online as restrictions was still in force due to Covid-19.
With the lifting of the restrictions, we have decided to have a hybrid Camp Meeting for 2022. The Lord has blessed the South England Conference with the acquisition and development of our new Hays Wood Retreat Centre in Norfolk. This year we plan to have about 170 campers on site while the services will be live streamed. The SEC is committed to developing our 70-acre site with the hope of holding future Camp Meetings and other large events such as Camporees.
This decision will address the wishes of our members. Firstly, we are now investing in our own site, which will be a legacy for our children in the future. We believe this is good stewardship. Secondly, we will be responsible for the cleanliness and the maintenance of our site. Thirdly, we will be able to select the time of the year when our children are on half-term holidays to hold our Camp Meeting.
Our theme for Camp Meeting 2022 is “Let’s Cross Over”. The context is drawn from Mark 4: 35 where Jesus had finished labouring strenuously and needed a respite. We likewise have come through a pandemic where we have had to minister under challenging conditions. Now that we have come out of the pandemic, we need to cross over to face new challenges. We need to cross over to a transformational experience with Christ as we prepare for His second advent. We are hoping to have a holistic approach for our Camp Meeting 2022 where we cater for our children, teens, youth, adults and young adults.
Our special guest speaker is Pastor Ty Gibson who is a gifted speaker drawing men and women to have a closer walk with Jesus. It is our hope that hearts will be touched, and lives transformed during Camp Meeting 2022.
Dr. Emmanuel Osei is the President of the South England Conference.