June 25 - July 1, 1884

Blue Earth Co., 2 miles west of Mankato, Junction of Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers    Map

Find it today: Based on this website editor's research, this location was probably at Sibley Mound, the site that became Sibley Park. 

CAMP-MEETING. This annual gathering was at Mankato. The encampment was one and a half miles west of the city, in a beautiful grove on an eminence of land overlooking the town and country. The Blue Earth River ran close by one side, forming a junction with the Minnesota River a few rods below the grounds. For every purpose, we think the situation the best we ever saw. The meeting was the largest ever held by our people in the State. One hundred and twenty-three tents were pitched, and about nine hundred Sabbath-keepers encamped on the ground. Brn. Butler, Van Horn, and others were present from abroad, besides the resident ministers of the Conference.

Meetings were carried on at the same time in four different languages, English, Danish, Swedish, and German, and about thirty-two sermons were preached. Bro. Conradi took charge of the German, Brn. Hansen, Johnson, and others, of the Danish, and Bro. Rosqvist of the Swedish. Seeing these different nationalities all represented in one meeting, all united in one work, all endeavoring to push forward the third angel's message, forcibly reminds an observer of the ancient prediction, and its present rapid fulfillment, that this message should go to nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. One encouraging and interesting feature of the meeting was the presence of over forty German Sabbath-keepers. Although there has been but little labor among that people in this State, yet nearly all of these have embraced the truth the past year. We noticed the same gratifying results from labor bestowed in Kansas. Where labor had been bestowed in one place, and about twelve had taken hold of the Sabbath, we recently learned that their number had increased to twenty-five. Also where the truth has been presented to them in Nebraska, encouraging results have been seen. This increase shows that faithful labor put forth among the Germans, will be as successful as among almost any nationality.

The president of the Conference, with many of the Minnesota workers in different branches, had been on the ground for a week, planning and counseling, and holding workers' meetings. These were special occasions for seeking God, and we think their influence on the general camp-meeting was most excellent. We noticed an almost entire absence of that light, trifling, and visiting spirit which is sometimes seen at our camp-meetings. There seemed to be a sober seriousness with nearly all, and this Spirit God seemed to honor and bless. It no doubt added much to the interest and success of the meeting.

The preaching was of a nature to impress the mind with the solemnity of the work, its rise and rapid development, its present needs, both of men and means, the signs of its rapidly approaching consummation, and the devotion and holiness of character necessary to engage in it acceptably being earnestly set forth. As these points were brought out, they seemed to find a response in every heart. When the present wants of the cause were set before the brethren, they cheerfully pledged $19,965, which includes a few thousands pledged the past winter on the same fund of $25,000, which they had voted to raise. This is to be divided as follows: $10,000 for a reserve fund and a depository; $5,000 for educational purposes; $5,000 for city missions; $2,000 for the Central European Missions; and $3,000 for the Scandinavian Mission. We never saw brethren pledge more freely and with less solicitation than here. In short, there seemed to be a desire to do this. What can show more clearly the increasing faith of the people in this message than the liberal disposition manifested to sacrifice of their means to carry it to a successful termination? But this is not the only omen of good. We see that as soon as the brethren begin to sacrifice, there is a desire to devote themselves to the cause in some way. There are therefore many more than we ever saw before who are preparing to go forth as canvassers, colporters, and agents.

Bro. Butler's account of his European tour was most interesting; and as he set before us the crying need of the millions of the Old World who are in darkness, and that God had given to us the only truth that will save them, and thus made us responsible for their enlightenment, every heart was touched, and a hearty response was given.

The business of the Conference and Tract Society passed off with the most perfect unanimity. In the reports of each was seen a most gratifying increase of labor performed the past year. The brethren most heartily appreciate the faithful and earnest efforts of Bro. Olsen. He has worked hard, and the brethren are grateful for the labor bestowed. In most respects a thoroughness was evinced that will bring about a more healthful state of things than has been seen in Minnesota before.

The attendance from the outside was not great. On Sunday there were present 2,000 or more, who gave the closest attention to the word spoken. It seemed as if some of the seed must have fallen on good ground, and that we shall see fruit of it after many days.

There was a large number of youth and children on the ground. Bro. Van Horn held children's meetings with them every day, in which they were instructed in the life, character, and labors of Christ, and the deceptive nature of sin and Satan. Much of his teachings also related to practical duties, giving instruction in the duties of baptism and in the service of God, so that when a general call was made, many of them moved forward in an intelligent manner.

On the Sabbath, after a most impressive sermon by Bro. Butler from Ps. 126:6, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him,” – a call was made for those who wished to seek God for the first time, or backsliders who wished to return to God. With scarcely any urging, nearly one hundred and seventy-five responded to the call; and as these willing souls gave themselves to God, his Spirit came graciously near, and everything seemed hushed in quiet. The work was carried on in the district meetings in different parts of the camp, and most precious meetings were reported. Monday forenoon Bro. Butler preached again from Eph. 2:8, 9. The good Spirit of God came very near, and even more responded to the call than on the Sabbath before. As these precious ones gave themselves to God with penitence of heart and contrition of soul, God gave them of his blessing in a large measure. I do not think I ever witnessed a more remarkable manifestation of God's power than at this meeting. In that congregation of nearly one thousand persons scarcely a dry eye could be seen. It seemed as though every heart was touched.

Near the close of the meeting, when a call was made for those who wished baptism to arise, sixty-nine responded; we also learned that there were some twelve or fifteen, others who desired baptism, but circumstances hindered till they should return home. The congregation then retired to the river, and these willing converts were buried with their Lord. The rite was performed by three administrators in the clear waters of the Minnesota.

The parting meeting was held Tuesday morning. And thus closed this good meeting, in some respects the most remarkable one we ever had the privilege of attending. Another great victory was gained. It was evident to all that holy angels were all through the camp. The brethren and sisters returned to their homes with faith revived and hope made bright, and with hearts filled with a determination that the work of God shall be carried farther and faster than ever before in Minnesota. To God be all the praise.

E. W. Farnsworth. – Review and Herald, July 15, 1884

The REVIEW is authority for the statement that one refreshment stand at the Adventist camp meeting, near Mankato; sold eight barrels of lemonade on Sunday, the 29th ult.

New Ulm Weekly Review, July 9, 1884

MN SDA HISTORY EDITOR'S NOTE: The Joseph Sutherland family lived in Iowa near the Minnesota border and it was at Minnesota camp meeting in Mankato (in 1884 or 1885) that the young Edward A. Sutherland heard George I. Butler, G.C. President, give an invitation to the youth to go to Battle Creek, Michigan for an SDA education.  Edward Sutherland answered that call, graduated from Battle Creek College in 1890 and then commenced a career dedicated to pioneering in Christian education. 

Sutherland first returned to Minnesota to serve for a year as the second Principal of the Minnesota Conference School (located in the Minneapolis First English SDA Church on Lake Street).  He then returned to teach a year at Battle Creek and followed that by a move west in 1892 where he became founding President of Walla Walla College in Washington, serving there until 1897.  At that time, he took up work as the President of Battle Creek College, guiding it through the transition from Battle Creek to Berrien Springs, Michigan, where it was renamed Emmanuel Missionary College (many years later it was renamed Andrews University).  In 1904, he moved south and served as the founding President of Madison College in Tennessee.  In addition to his contributions to the SDA college system, Sutherland was also instrumental in encouraging the establishment of the first church schools.  In his dissertation focused on Sutherland, Warren Sidney Ashworth states that Sutherland "was quite possibly the most notable and successful educational reformer in the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the formative years of its educational system."  At Andrews University, his home still bears his name – the Sutherland House.

It is remarkable to think that this significant pioneering career in SDA education commenced at Minnesota Campmeeting in Mankato!

Reference: Ashworth, Warren Sidney, "Edward Alexander Sutherland and the Seventh-day Adventist Educational Reform: the Denominational Years" (1986). Dissertations. Paper 201.  http://digitalcommons.andrews.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1200&context=dissertations 

Lessons of the past
Hope for the future