The Beginning of Joy: Wilmore Camp Meeting 2013

Dr. Tony Headley speaks during evening services at Wilmore Camp Meeting 2013.
Dr. Tony Headley speaks during evening services at Wilmore Camp Meeting 2013.

WILMORE, Ky. — Asbury University’s historic Hughes Auditorium is once again ringing with the sounds of classic choruses of faith as the Wilmore Camp Meeting 2013 convenes its annual meeting on campus this week.

This year marks the third year that the Camp Meeting, a Wilmore tradition dating to 1890, has been held on Asbury’s campus. What began as a conversation between Asbury’s founder, John Wesley Hughes, and celebrated evangelist Henry Clay Morrison (who later served as president of Asbury) has continued to impact the community and University.

In addition to large-group meetings in Hughes Auditorium and a nearby lecture hall, Asbury facilities have benefitted the youth program sponsored by the Camp Meeting. Late-night conversations in dorm rooms, youth Bible studies and worship sessions in different buildings and games in the Luce Center complement the messages the middle- and high-school students in the congregation receive each evening. By opening up its buildings, Asbury has also opened up opportunities for different generations to interact and for the youth group — which includes individuals from several different countries — to experience God.

“I helped to lead worship last year at Camp Meeting, and I loved seeing what the Lord was doing,” said Jason Owens, a seminary student who also works with the Francis Asbury Society. “When my wife and I were offered the job again, we jumped at the opportunity to do something in which the Spirit was moving. It’s a beautiful thing to see the hands and feet of Christ in action across the generation gap, and it’s good for the youth to see that they’re loved.”

Dr. Tony Headley, professor of counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary, began speaking on Sunday evening about different aspects of a holy Christian life. Drawing on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 on Tuesday, he put before the gathered congregation the reminder that happiness and holiness need not be mutually exclusive ideas.

“Happiness is allowing God to stamp His image on you,” Headley said. “Jesus says the path always begins with humility, with a confession of your unworthiness, and looking to God to transform your life. It may seem like an unhappy moment, but it is the beginning of joy.”

Joy is also a theme of a Bible study on Philippians conducted each morning by Rev. Ellen Bullock, an evangelist in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. She began Monday morning with a closer look at the Apostle Paul and his capacity for a joyous attitude toward the Philippians, despite having written the letter while under house arrest.

“You see more frustration from people waiting in line at Wal-Mart than you do from Paul, who was under house arrest for two years,” Bullock said. “Everyone has something that can rob your joy or stress you out. But joy is not a gift. We can choose joy in how we react to things in life.”

Camp Meeting services will continue through Friday with Bible study at 10:30 a.m. in Room 214 of Reasoner Hall, and evening worship at 7 p.m. in Hughes Auditorium.

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