The South England Conference (SEC) held its second virtual Camp Meeting from 31 May to 5 June 2021. The Conference built upon the experience and success of last year's inaugural virtual event which was organised three months into the COVID-19 pandemic and first UK lockdown. The week-long event of online presentations, sermons, Bible studies, testimonies, departmental workshops and music, adopted the SEC's 4-year theme – Making Disciples, Building Communities. This year, all age groups were catered for, with adults, Youth Ministries, Teens Ministries and Pathfinders, and Children's Ministries holding their own scheduled programmes. In addition, a British Sign Language YouTube channel was created for the deaf and hearing-impaired community.
The adult programme had an online global audience of almost 100,000 during the week and featured a 9-stong keynote speaker line-up of SEC presenters and international guests.
Each day Camp Meeting began at 7:00 am with Morning Manna – a time of prayer, testimonies and inspirational messages featuring Dr Jongimpi Papu, President of the Cape Conference in South Africa.
Keynote speakers also featured during the daily evening Commitment Service. On Monday, Director of Asian-Pacific Ministries of the North American Division, Pastor VicLouis Arreola III explored, 'The 3 Ingredients for a Successful Church'. Tuesday's sermon was by Pastor Ivana Mendez from the Scottish Mission, who examined the character of doubting Thomas.
On Wednesday, Isle of Wight Pastor Adrian Peck spoke on 'What a church community should be like'. The following day, Pastor Donnette Blake, of New Dimension church in Brooklyn, New York, chose as her topic, 'Community of One'. Dr Eric Walsh from California preached on Friday with a message he entitled 'Playing with Darkness'.
One of the innovations this year was Friday's virtual Communion Service. It was conducted by SEC President, Dr Emmanuel Osei, and Pastors Sophia Peart and Terry Messenger. Church members were encouraged to have Communion emblems ready to enable them to participate from home.
Other programmes included a 5-day Bible study series with Pastor Robin Lewis; daily Health presentations by former Health Ministries Director at the North England Conference Dr Anthony Espinet; and morning devotionals presented by Pastors Sorin Petrof, Nerine Barrett, Steve Thomas, Matthew Herel and John Melki.
As with traditional Camp Meeting, the main highlight of the week was the Sabbath programme which began with the conclusion of Dr Papu's Morning Manna series. Sabbath School was taken by Croydon church. They held a live interactive study hosted by Elder Johny Saul and Pastor Royston Smith, who shared thoughts and comments on 'The New Sanctuary', from a panel of virtual contributors and the online audience.
The sermon during Divine Service was delivered by Pastor Roger Hernandez, the Ministerial and Evangelism Director for the Southern Union Conference, USA. Hernandez titled his message, 'The Remnant'. He distinguished four characteristics of the saved in Revelation chapter 7. He identified 1. Multicultural expression; 2. Clear on the Gospel; 3. High tolerance for pain; 4. Serve enthusiastically. In closing, he stated that "ultimately Jesus wins and those who follow Jesus win also." The audience was then encouraged to use the online chat to type the phrase "I'm still standing" to express their desire to be part of the "great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb."
Pastor John Bradshaw, President of It Is Written, the international media evangelism ministry based in Tennessee, presented the afternoon sermon which focused on the need for members to "take the gospel locally to the homes and communities in which they live." He asked for churches to be a place that brings healing and hope, like the river in Ezekiel 47. Bradshaw went on to invite those listening to "make disciples for Jesus, and help your church to be a faith community where people are loved and accepted."
After an evening concert featuring a variety of musical talent from across the SEC, Pastor Steve Riley from Trinidad, gave the final Commitment sermon titled, 'Can I Get a Witness?' Riley spoke on Acts 1:8 and Jesus' call for us to be witnesses to all people. He asserted that "the doors of the church must be wide enough to welcome sinners from the uttermost." He concluded with an appeal to the listeners and viewers to have the courage "to take the stand for Jesus" through making disciples and building communities.
SEC Camp Meeting 2021 was then brought to a close with a vote of thanks by Dr Emmanuel Osei, who recognised everyone who contributed to making the event a Spirit-filled success.