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General Conference Bulletin, vol. 1

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    (Read before the Sabbath-school Council.)

    GREAT opportunities seldom present themselves for improvement. The annual camp-meeting is the great opportunity of the year to State Sabbath-school officers. Since this is true, the most carefulGCB February 27, 1895, page 369.1

    plans should be devised, that the greatest good may be accomplished. The President and Secretary of the Association should counsel together, and with the members of their executive committee if possible, that there may be perfect harmony of action. We cannot too strongly emphasize the importance of laying the best plans for the school in season. Time should be given persons in which to prepare for their duties, and all supplies should be ordered early, that there may be no failure in receiving them. While economy should be studied, it is not wise to order a scanty supply of lesson papers and other supplies, but there should be a sufficient quantity to furnish all who may be present. Those who are to bear responsibilities should be notified as to what is expected of them, that they may have time for study and seeking God before entering upon this sacred work.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.2

    At most of our camp-meetings there are two Sabbath-schools to plan for. The Sabbath of the workers’ meeting the school is not usually as large as that of the following week, but it is not therefore unimportant.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.3

    A teachers’ meeting should be held, and persons expected to lead in the study in the different divisions should be notified as to what is expected of them. If the time and place of such meeting are distinctly understood, it will be a great help. As far as possible, make this a model teachers’ meeting, for its helpful influence will extend over the State long after it is past.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.4

    Superintendents, secretaries, and those who are to review the school should all be given ample time to prepare for their duties. Failure to do this means failure to the camp-meeting Sabbath-school.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.5

    To illustrate this and other points mentioned, I will give an item of personal experience. After taking a long journey in the heat of midsummer, we arrived at the camp-ground on Friday preceding the workers’ meeting. During the day the President of the Association was seen, and asked particularly concerning the plans for the following day, and if persons were selected to conduct the reviews in all departments. On being told that all arrangements had been perfected, I had no further anxiety, and said I would be glad to improve the next day in visiting the different divisions of the school. But what was my surprise the following morning when I went to the children’s division after time for opening the school, to be told by the one in charge that I was expected to review that division of the school. On expressing surprise at such an announcement, I was informed that the President had said I would, and with a look of distress the superintendent said, “I know it is too bad, but please don’t refuse. We have about two hundred children here, and only six or eight teachers. If you will open the school, I will try to find some more teachers.” What could one do but comply with the request? but the precious opportunity of that day was lost.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.6

    It seems to be the most satisfactory plan to have the children by themselves. Announcement should be distinctly made in the public congregation where each division will meet, and all instructed to go to the proper place at the appointed time. If all meet first in the large tent, and the divisions separate afterward, precious time is lost. Teachers and ushers should meet together half an hour before the opening of the school that all may find their proper places. In seating the classes, different ways have been employed, the most common being to have the teachers in their appointed place, the ushers conducting to them the number designated as a class.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.7

    When the hour for opening the school has arrived, there is no time to secure an organist, find some one to lead the school in prayer, select the songs to be sung, and look after other little details. These should all be arranged before hand. It is not necessary that the President and Secretary of the Association do all the work; but it is necessary that they should know that proper persons are selected and prepared.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.8

    In preparing for the different features of the school, the offerings to missions should not be forgotten. Five minutes may be occupied in giving a few of the most interesting facts concerning the field to which the offerings are sent. A knowledge of the field, a sense of gratitude to God for the blessings we enjoy, and our duty to those less favored, will create a spirit of liberality in those present, and will result in larger contributions.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.9

    All will see the importance of beginning and closing the school promptly, and of having the organization so thoroughly perfected that while the machinery is invisible, all will move with the precision of clock-work, that all may enter upon the study of the sacred word saying from the heart with Cornelius: “Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.”GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.10

    So far, I have dwelt only on the mechanical part of the work, but even with perfect organization and arrangement, the school may be a failure. From the first the prayer of every consecrated worker will be that the school may be conducted in harmony with the mind of God, that his Spirit may be present in each division and exercise. This thought should be in the minds of those in charge of the school from the beginning, and should constantly be kept before the teachers. There should be a spirit of devotion, a spiritual atmosphere which will be felt by all present. While good order and thorough preparation are very necessary, the blessing of God and his Spirit are most necessary. Having all these, the camp-meeting Sabbath-school will not fail to be a success.GCB February 27, 1895, page 369.11

    Now concerning the question as to what we shall do with our children at camp-meeting. How can we do our duty by them? How secure the best results in working for them? These are some of the questions to which our attention is invited at this time.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.1

    First, bring the children to the meeting. Conference and Sabbath-school officers should use their influence to have them there. The command of God when he calls a solemn assembly is that not only the elders are to be present, but the children also, even to the youngest. If the children come upon the ground with the thought that they are to meet God, that they have not come on a pleasure excursion in the common sense of the term, but that the camp-meeting is a place to seek and find Jesus, and learn his will, and if parents realize their duty to restrain and control their children while attending these important meetings, much will have been accomplished before the beginning of the camp-meeting. The Spirit of God has said:—GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.2

    The moral taste of the worshipers in God’s holy sanctuary must be elevated, refined, sanctified. This matter has been sadly neglected. Its importance has been overlooked, and as the result, disorder and irreverence have become prevalent, and God has been dishonored. When the leaders in the church, ministers and people, fathers and mothers, have not had elevated views of the matter, what could be expected of the inexperienced children? They are too often found in groups, away from the parents, who should have charge of them. Notwithstanding they are in the presence of God, and his eye is looking upon them, they are light and trifling; they whisper and laugh, are careless, irreverent, and inattentive.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.3

    What has been the result of all this? Again I quote: “Because of the irreverence in attitude, dress, and deportment, and lack of a worshipful frame of mind, God has often turned his face away from those assembled for his worship.” Brethren and sisters, we don’t want God to turn away his face from our camp-meetings, and therefore I call your attention to this point of preparation before coming to the meeting.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.4

    It is important that those who are expected to work for the children should have time to prepare for their duties. The best results cannot be secured by appointing persons one or two weeks before the beginning of the camp-meeting.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.5

    There is not usually a more patient congregation, one so ready to receive instruction, one more faithful in attendance, than the dear children who come to our camp-meetings. There are none who will longer remember what is said and done, upon whom deeper impressions are made. Therefore, it is the more necessary to use carefulness in arranging the place of meeting, in the selection of those who give instruction, and in the methods of work employed. More attention is now given than formerly to the preparation of the place of meeting. It should be provided, and all as conveniently arranged for the comfort of the little people as possible, and again I would say, “In season.”GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.6

    We repeat that much care is necessary in the selection of workers. They, above all others, should be through-and-through Christians, and they should also have no doubts that children may be Christians. They must be prepared to lead the way, that the children may follow. The best talent is none too good to devote to the children.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.7

    In the plans of working with children, I would not point out any one method as the best. I would rather recommend that each study for himself, and so seek God that he may direct him in the best ways of working. In most places it has been found best to have one person in charge of each division, with several to assist. Usually the leader occupies the time of one meeting each day, and the helpers the other, the children having been divided into classes, and each helper placed in charge of a class. It is expected that these helpers will become acquainted personally with the children, talk and pray with them as opportunity is presented, and seek in every way to become acquainted with the children, and help them in their religious experience. This plan seems to be most necessary where there is a large number in attendance, for one would find it impossible to do all the personal work required. All the workers should meet at least once a day for prayer and counsel together.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.8

    At a few meetings I have seen some of the reasons of our faith interwoven with the practical instruction, and have observed that the instruction was attended with good interest, and the children soon learned to give the proof texts. I have sometimes thought it would be well to have more instruction of this kind.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.9

    From the first I think it well to give opportunity for the children to pray in the meetings, and testify of their love for the Saviour. If the Spirit of God guides and controls, these meetings will be the most precious of all. Anything like excitement or working on the emotions of the children should be avoided; for they often act from impulse. The instruction should be given in a calm, earnest manner; they should be taught to count the cost of the Christian life, how to have faith in God, and how to overcome temptation. I would advise that all the teaching should aim to instruct the children how to be Christians rather than to get them to say they will be Christians. I think they should never be urged to be baptized and join the church. I have been distressed many times to see those baptized who showed by their actions that they had no sense of the step they were taking. I think great caution should be used in this matter.GCB February 27, 1895, page 370.10

    Another point to be guarded against is the workers’ drawing the children to themselves, instead of to Christ. Their little hearts are easily won, and while the instructor will feel the deepest interest and love for all, Jesus should be the one seen and loved, and not the teacher.GCB February 27, 1895, page 371.1

    The experiment has been tried of inviting parents to come to the meetings with their children. Some do not know how to approach their children in religious matters, and many children feel more free to talk with any one of their joys and difficulties in Christian experience rather than with the father or mother. If parents were allowed to come to the meetings with their children, and hear the instruction given them, they could better second the efforts of those bearing the burden of the meetings; the wall of partition would be broken down, and parents and children would be brought closer together. I think in many cases beneficial results would follow this plan, especially if the mothers could be present. Children would not be so apt to feel that they must have a special meeting of their own before taking part, and this would assist them after returning home. Where this plan has been tried, the parents have testified that the meetings for their children were the best of any held during the camp-meeting.GCB February 27, 1895, page 371.2

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