South Louisiana Experiences Camp Meeting Joys
“For years we’ve dreamed of a having a camp meeting that wasn’t a day’s drive away, and at last that dream has come true,” was a comment heard over and over again at the South Louisiana camp meeting. The idea was first proposed at the New Orleans area study commission some months back but became a reality when the area pastors and laity pulled together in planning what has turned out to be a rewarding experience for all. “We were hoping for 400-500 people this first year ,” commented Dexter LeBlanc, pastor of the New Orleans St. Bernard church. ‘How excited we were when almost 1,000 of our area members showed up on Sabbath in spite of the much colder than usual weather.’
Facilities for the camp meeting, held at Yogi Bear Jellystone Park near Robert, La. north of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain, were adequate. The adult English meetings, with Kenneth Cox as speaker, were held in a large covered open air pavilion, and a large tent housed the Spanish members whose guest speaker was Hugo Gambeta (sic). The music, coordinated by Don Fortner, pastor of the Baton Rouge/Zachary churches, included Dona Klein, Maddy Couperas, the Denham Springs youth choir and many others, all of whom helped enhance the atmosphere of the meetings. Everyone pitched in to help the program run smoothly. Conference Education director and vice president, Don Hevener, and conference committee member Denny Nelson manned the spotlight used to focus on Ken Cox who was using a large computer-generated screen for his presentations.
Glenn Farinola, pastor of the Houma district, was in charge of housing. John Taylor, who planned for 60 juniors Sabbath afternoon program at a nearby wildlife park and zoo, had to accommodate 180 juniors instead. And the youth were cared for by Richard and Betty Allison, pastoral team from Lake Charles, with Jeff and Jackie Wait to help. ‘Camp meeting is not camp meeting without a good Sabbath school lesson study,’ was the way Bruce Aalborg, conference secretary and ministerial director, introduced the study on Jesus’ resurrection. Michael Cuilla, who came all the way from Texas to assist conference youth director, Tibor Shelley, with the video production, remarked, ‘This is an old fashioned hi-tech camp meeting combining great preaching and features of an old fashioned outdoor camp meeting with the latest technology. I’m really glad I came, for I received a real spiritual blessing.’ At the conclusion of his introduction of conference president, James Gilley, to the Spanish members, Robert Eubanks, New Orleans Spanish district pastor, ended by saying, ‘Elder Gilley, we want to do this again next year!’ The Spanish members broke out into spontaneous applause – James Gilley” (Gilley, 1998).
Gilley, James. (1998, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 8, 9.