We’re Standing on Holy Ground

4

Last night was officially the kick-off of the 2015 camp season here at Delanco Camp! To celebrate this holiday weekend, families from across South Jersey are here for Camp Meeting.

Since this year is the 50th Anniversary of Delanco moving to Lake Agape, this weekend is truly about celebrating the history and sacredness of this special place. Each night of Camp Meeting, we will be having a different speaker serve as the evangelist for the evening. To kick off Camp Meeting, Reverend Carlton “Bo” Bodine lead the service for Thursday. Now, if anyone knows anything about camp, Reverend Bodine is to go-to man for Delanco history. As he said in his sermon last night, he first went to the original camp grounds at six months old, and has been a part of the ministry here at Lake Agape since he was 16 years old. Essentially, Reverend Bodine embodies the true spirit of Delanco Camp.

Last night,  he reminded everyone of the story of how Delanco first moved here to Lake Agape 50 years ago. The original grounds were struggling as the local town of Delanco moved closer and closer to its borders. Some of the buildings were damaged from an accident involving a drunk driver. With the insurance money, the directors decided to purchase a new property in the middle of the woods in Tabernacle.

The first day, the directors met on the beach of Lake Agape and prayed for the ministry that would follow that summer and the years to come. Now, 50 years later, over 100 people met on that same beach again last month during the Delanco Dinner, praying for the past, present, and future 50 years of this place.

One of the key things that Reverend Bodine spoke about was the word holiness and its integral part in the foundation of Delanco Camp. Holiness, essentially, is defined as something “in the highest sense belonging to God”.

It’s important to remember that Delanco Camp is a where God is found, where He does the miraculous, and where lives are changing every summer. It’s a place where the spirit of Jesus Christ is not only alive, but it is visible every single day. Ultimately, Delanco is a holy place, belonging to God.

It’s crazy to think how many lives have been changed over the past 50 years of ministry of Delanco Camp. Like how many people got saved at that old, paint-chipped alter in the Tabernacle. How many lasting friendships were made in the dorms over late night talks when you were supposed to be asleep.  How many people sat in the wooden pews and felt God tugging at their hearts, pulling them into ministry. How many people met their future spouses during free time or in class. Delanco changes hundreds of lives every summer because God is present and God is always moving here on this holy, sandy ground.

Reverend Bodine closed the evening by having us all sing along to a chorus of the song “We Are Standing On Holy Ground”:

We are standing on holy ground. For I know there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. For we are standing in His presence on holy ground.

For me, that chorus is a perfect representation of Reverend Bodine’s message: Delanco Camp has and will always be a place touched by God, filled with His presence and love, that will continue to change lives for the next 50 years and beyond.

Camp Meeting postcard, circa 1906

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 2.41.42 PM

Here’s a Throwback Thursday gem courtesy of CardCow.com, which has a Fletcher Grove Camp Meeting (the original name of the camp when it was founded in Delanco) for sale for $11.95. If you’re doing the math, that makes the postcard 108 years old and means the camp had only been around for eight years when it was printed.

What Camp Meeting Means to Andy Bowen

10348601_719341308107884_7367861292994661013_n

What does camp meeting mean to you? Why is it important to you?

Delanco Camp Meeting is an event that connects me with my past—with where I came from, with who I am, and with why I am who I am. It was at Camp Meeting when I was seven years old that I responded to a clear salvation message and went to the altar to give my life to Jesus. My Dad did the same thing many years previously. My grandfather’s life was profoundly impacted by Camp Meeting at Delanco. So my connection with Delanco Camp keeps me rooted and in touch with who I am.

But the leadership is always thinking about how Camp Meeting is going to continue to be relevant. If it were just about what Delanco Camp used to be, then a time would come when it was no longer worth investing in. I think that the value of an event like Camp Meeting is that people of all ages still are able to get away from their daily life and get together with God’s people in an environment that promotes God’s work in the individual and the community. If that didn’t still happen at Delanco, it wouldn’t be viable.

But it does. It’s a time of getting apart, hearing God’s word proclaimed, being challenged to reconnect and recommit and be restored. Besides renewing old friendships, you can initiate new ones. And many of the relationships developed through Delanco Camp Meeting are ones that point you toward Jesus and keep challenging you across the years to keep serving and loving and following Jesus.

That’s why, God willing, I will continue to be involved with Camp Meeting and to invest in its ministry. I’ll pray for it when I’m far away and I’ll be here as often as I can.

-Andy Bowen, evangelist for Camp Meeting 2014