The history of loving fellowship and spirit-filled preaching is evident every year at Gulf States Conference Camp Meeting. The Conference staff decided to ask different Gulf States members what Camp Meeting means to them. In the process, they interviewed the Richardson/Ciocan family, who for three generations has been faithfully attending Gulf States Camp Meetings.
For C.L. Richardson, Camp Meeting has simply been a way of life for him and his family: “I remember going to my first camp meeting when I was six or seven. Since the first Camp Meeting in 1959 at Bass Memorial Academy in Lumberton, Miss., some part of the Richardson family has been at Camp Meeting every year. We’ve been camping at the same spot for 40 years, between the blueberry patch and where the tents stop. We planned Camp Meeting from year to year. Next to going to church, Camp Meeting was the utmost in our minds. One thing that impresses me the most about Camp Meeting is you have speakers from different backgrounds, cultures, locations, education, and all sorts of things. They’re told what the theme of Camp Meeting is, and the Holy Spirit works, and these people come, and their messages are usually dove-tailed together. I’m sure they don’t all get together and say, ‘You talk about this, I’ll talk about that.’ But, the Holy Spirit impresses on their minds the message that the people need to hear.”
Sheri Ciocan has been attending Camp Meeting since she was born: “My mother, she was actually going when she was pregnant with me. I have gone my whole life. It’s hard to even think about life without Camp Meeting. It’s been a huge part of my life. That was my vacation every year. I would save up my personal leave, and that’s what I would use it for, to take my kids so that they could have the same experiences that I had when I was younger. I always like the book sale, because I could always get my kids books to read throughout the year; every year getting to see friends that you only see during Camp Meeting; [and] watching my kids experience making new friends and getting closer to God. My daughter was actually baptized at Camp Meeting. Just the closeness of it reminds you just a tad of what Heaven is going to be like.”
Sheri’s daughter, Brigitte Cicoan, is the next generation growing up in the Gulf States Conference, and has experienced Camp Meeting: “What has Camp Meeting meant to me? That’s a question I could answer in a long essay. I have so many memories that I could probably write a book. As a home schooler, it was always great because that was the time of the year that I got to spend a week with all of my friends. I remember learning about Jesus from my favorite primary teacher, Pastor Martin Fancher, or as I call him, ‘Grease Monkey.’ I’m not sure how he got that name, but I probably didn’t figure out his real name until I was much older. I also remember singing to people at a soup kitchen, and helping out at a nearby orphanage. God used Camp Meeting to mold me into the Christian He wanted me to be. After all, Camp Meeting was where the awesome Pastor Tony Pitt baptized me, and where I made godly friends that I still have today. I’m thankful for the way God used Camp Meeting to show me and others his great love!”
Over the years, Camp Meeting has meant many things to many people. For some it’s a vacation and family tradition, for others it’s a chance to catch up with church friends you haven’t seen in a year, and for others it’s a place to be inspired and fired up for the work of ministry. No matter what you come for, the Gulf States Conference hopes and prays that the main goal of Camp Meeting is accomplished in your life — bringing you closer to Jesus. See you at Camp Alamisco April 7 and 8 for convocation, and May 24-27 at Bass Memorial Academy!
Gulf States | May 2017