Old Orchard Beach Camp meetings got off to a blazing start on Saturday July 23, 2022, under the theme “TOGETHER–Nothing Shall Separate Us.”
These were the first official meetings at the Salvation Army’s historic camp since the COVID–19 pandemic. “It is hard to believe that it has not been two years, but three years since we’ve been here,” said Commissioner William A. Bamford III, territorial commander. “Although many things have been thrown at us in recent days, nothing will separate us from the love of God!”
Bamford wore short sleeves to beat the heatwave that swept the Northeast, but his words were full of passion and fire for the Holy Spirit. “May He continue to strengthen, challenge, and inspire us as we proclaim the name of Jesus!” Bamford said.
The Territorial Commander repeated Romans 8:1–11, which had been graciously recited and performed by Colonel Janet Munn during her scripture presentation. Then Bamford said, “And may that be so, even as we enter into the days that are before us.”
Many uniformed Salvationists gathered under the wings of the Seaside Pavilion to enjoy powerful selections from the New York Staff Band, energizing congregational singing, and the heartfelt music of the Eastern Territory Staff Songsters. A stimulating and challenging message from Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham, the World Secretary for Spiritual Life Development, would soon follow.
Commissioner Lyndon Buckingham, Chief of the Staff, offered an enthusiastic “thank you” in response to the warm welcome they had received from the territorial leaders. He then gave a short but poignant report on the way in which Salvationists have regrouped globally in the aftermath of COVID–19.
“You probably haven’t been hearing it on the news, but I’m here to tell you that God is coming with refreshing, energizing power to reestablish His presence!” said the Chief of the Staff.
“Under the umbrella of The Salvation Army, God’s people have gathered together to share in fellowship and to present themselves back to the King,” Buckingham continued. “There have been healings, liberations, and transformations. Men and women have been born into the Kingdom of God. People are covenanting afresh with reenergizing power, and we should be celebrating that!” His audience responded with enthusiastic and sustained applause.
The Chief Secretary, Colonel Philip J. Maxwell, introduced an insightful video that described the virtues of an integrated Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) and corps ministry. Shared on the big screen were the testimonies of men who have gone through the ARC program. In the process, they’ve also found Christ as their personal Savior.
Where is your mind set?
“Well, we’re two years late, but we finally made it to OOB!” exclaimed the speaker Commissioner Bronwyn Buckingham when she took center stage. The international Salvation Army leader quickly made up for lost time by vividly describing her urban lifestyle in the UK.
The sounds of the city notwithstanding, Buckingham pointed out how the voice of a small bird managed to capture her attention above the din of train, plane, car, and loud conversation noises that rode a warm breeze into her window. “I felt in those moments of my praying that God said, ‘I am here, over and above and through all the sounds of people living their lives.”
Buckingham used that illustration to bring home the point of Romans 8:1–11, which is that we must intentionally set our minds on what the Spirit of God desires, rather than on the things of this busy and distracting world. “The mind governed by the flesh is death; but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace,” she said.
Ministering in Town Square
At the Old Orchard Beach Town Square, hundreds of tourists visited the Pier Ministry Festival, which included live music, and ministry from many Salvation Army performers, such as the MOVE Dance Co., Eli Morgan Magic, and the contemporary worship band UNBOUND. Earlier in the day, children enjoyed meetings held in the Tabernacle/Old Orchard Beach Corps.
“We aren’t having as many days at Old Orchard Beach as we did before COVID-19,” said Doug Berry, music, and graphics director for the Pier Ministry Festival. “So, we want to share a clear message that God loves every single person walking by.”
Berry said that choosing a more traditional presentation than in years past allows for more interaction with the crowd. “This is a return to the Army’s traditional open–air ministry; attract a crowd with music or timbrels and share the message of Jesus. We want this to be a message that they can take home with them after their time here is done.”
The Creative Arts Service Team (CAST) were scheduled to present “OASIS,” an original interactive movement theater piece by Kellyn Mylechreest that explores the many ways in which water is used in the Bible.
More to come!
On Sunday, Camp meetings will continue at the Seaside Pavilion starting at 10 a.m., for both children and adults, followed by a 3 p.m., March of Witness. At 3:15 p.m., the Eastern Territorial Staff Songsters and New York Staff Band will minister to passersby in the Old Orchard Beach Town Square. The Pier Ministry Festival runs from Saturday to Tuesday, with live music, magic shows, and dance performances.