Amicolola Camp Meeting - the First of Many
Our group was growing with the on-line community and we decided it was time to have a camp meeting and invite those in the surrounding states to join us. We rented a small meeting room at the nearby state camp ground. The nearest available date was 6 months away. Adrian and two others would be coming from Australia. Stephen Hickey was going to present his success in reaching the Muslim community with the "One true God" approach. Several would tell of discovering the same things we had all found by reading the Bible for themselves. We rented several cottages and by April we had nearly 50 signed up.
In February I wondered how Gerhardt might be coming along with his research. Adrian, planning on staying for a couple of weeks after the camp meeting, was wanting to arrange a meeting with his Avondale professor while in the States. So we contacted him and scheduled a meeting at the BRI a few days after the camp meeting was to end.
We had carefully kept the news and details of the camp meeting privately among the study group at Jasper, not wanting to cause any trouble with the other church members. Only two weeks before the up-coming weekend, the Jasper church pastor announced that we would have communion the very same Sabbath! We quickly made arrangements for other to take our place, as I was an elder, Carolyn was the pianist, two other elders would also be at the camp meeting, two of the deaconesses had to get replacements.
I encouraged the pastor to consider changing the communion Sabbath because we were going to be away. A few days later he had learned about the camp meeting at the Amicolola State Park lodge. I invited him to come and hear about the Muslim work since he mentioned several times how he had been a student missionary working with the Muslims. He came Sabbath afternoon, took notice of all the church members in attendance, and left.
Adventist Heritage Tour
When the Amicolola meeting ended, the Ebens and Hullquists flew to Washington DC for our meeting with Elder Phandl. He informed us that night in the hotel that he would not be able to meet with us because of illness. Disappointed we went to the GC the next morning anyway, praying that he would have a miraculous recovery. But it was not to be. Sadly, we started off on our trip to visit all the New England historal sites of early Adventist landmarks: Joseph Bates' home in Massechusetts, Annie Smith's grave, Uriah Smith's home, the first Adventist church in Washington, New Hampshire, William Miller's farm in Low Hampton, New York, and finally, Hiram Edson's barn.
Just as we were driving out of Washington DC, we received an email from Gerhardt with an attached PDF, a manuscript written by Ekkhardt Mueller entitled, "Did Jesus Eminate from God the Father?" It was disappointing to read an apologetic denial of the eternal divine Sonship of Jesus citing a multitude of authorities outside the community of Adventism and only a passing reference to Ellen White. She "pointed out that in the Son is life unborrowed".
John 5:26 is listed as a reference but not cited. Why? Was it because the verse declares that the Father gave the life that is in Himself to His Son? John also records that the One whom God had sent receives from the Father the Spirit (life of the Father who is Spirit John 4:24) without measure (John 3:34). This would have been an ideal place to include Ellen's marvelous statement in Desire of Ages p. 21 (19 in the 1898 edition): "So in the heavenly courst...through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns...to the great Source of all." That's why "there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things" 1Cor 8:6.
The Father's Day Elder's Meeting
Many other events transpired after returning from our trip that converged to set in motion efforts to remove our membership from the Jasper church. We certainly did not want to leave. We had poured 10 years of our life and means into improving the Jasper Church and its school. But an issue of integrity at the school that would not be addressed demanded that we withdraw our continued support. This sparked a backlash and behind the scenes disinformation campaign.
The pastor asked us to put into writing what our beliefs were concerning the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I gave him the following Sabbath a single page. One side filled with Bible texts for each of the three, and the back side filled with SOP quotations concerning the same. He was not pleased and complained that this was not my words. He wanted to know what I believed. I told him that IS what I believe.
The pastor then called an Elder's Meeting for the next Sunday morning in the downstairs church fellowship hall. When James and I arrived we were met with the other three elders, the pastor, and to our surpise the conference ministerial director. He handed use a one page list of the first 5 Fundamental Beliefs and stated that if we would sign it the meeting would be over.
After an hour and a half of debate and little interest in reviewing the 34 page documentwe brought with more detailed support from the SOP, I stood up and called for prayer stating that my son was waiting outside to take us to lunch (now 2 pm). The pastor surprised, admitted he didn't realize what day it was. I had closing prayer and we left.