Rain fell as opening night of Old Orchard Beach (OOB) camp meetings began. But neither rain nor a brisk, chilly wind could dampen the warmth, enthusiasm, and hope generated as Salvationists from around the USA Eastern Territory and Canada gathered eagerly under the broad wings of the Seaside Pavilion. Indeed, it was the God who reigned inside each person Who prevailed.
Since 1885, The Salvation Army has held these historic camp meetings every year, except for 2020 and 2021, when such meetings were suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, the tradition continued under the weekend theme “God is working!” presented by a thoroughly researched and powerfully articulated message by Commissioner Mark W. Tillsley. He currently serves as Senior Instructor of Curriculum at the College for Officer Training. He also serves as Territorial Theology and Christian Ethics secretary for the Territorial Commander’s Office.
The New York Staff Band (NYSB) and the Canadian Staff Songsters (CSS) set a worshipful tone for the meeting with beautiful and inspiring renditions of “Make His Praise Glorious,” “They Could Not,” and “He’s Got The Whole World.”
Colonel Christine J. Rock, territorial secretary for women’s ministries, introduced the theme, prayed, and led congregational singing of “O For A Thousand Tongues.”
Commissioners William A. & G. Lorraine Bamford, territorial leaders, welcomed special guests CSS leader Major Len Ballantine, and Lt. Colonel John Murray, Territorial Secretary for Communications in the Canada & Bermuda Territory. “God is working! God is moving!” said Commissioner William Bamford. “We also want to send our love and prayers to Commissioners Floyd and Tracy Tidd.” Bamford referred to the Canada & Bermuda Territory leaders who were unable to attend due to Commissioner Floyd’s health concerns.
The audience was blessed with exciting reports from the Hands On team and CAST members summer service missions to Greece, Uruguay, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica.
In his opening remarks, Commissioner Tillsley mentioned that this would be his last appearance at OOB as an active officer. He and Commissioner Sharon Tillsley, who currently serves as Personnel Officer in the Officers’ Services and Records Department, will be retired by this time next year. “But the Army’s future is in good hands,” said Commissioner Mark. “God is working—in our world!”
God is working—in our world!
Tillsley carefully defined that world as complex and complicated. Using contrasting scriptural references taken from John 3:16 and 1 John, 2:16, and quotations from theologians throughout the ages, Tilsley expressed both the beauty and the challenges of loving a difficult world. He described the dilemma all Christians face who are called to love a world that is in constant conflict with itself and with God. Quoting Dr. Lyle Rader, among many others, Tillsley asked rhetorically, “There is enough blame to go around, but who will take the responsibility?”
“We are called to a ministry of conversion, compassion, and confrontation” concluded Tillsley. He encouraged his audience to facilitate God’s outreach to others by living joyful and obedient lives, by being God’s humble servants, and by stressing that it is more important to say what one stands for, rather than what one stands against.
Tillsley earnestly called everyone to action—to share their lives with others, be it on a mission field in a distant land or in a local supermarket at home.
Camp meetings will continue Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday; at the Seaside Pavilion, OOB Corps Chapel, on the beach, and at the Pier.