July 1 - 7, 1885

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. 

THE MINNESOTA CAMP-MEETING. This meeting was held at the same place as last year, on a high mound about two miles from the city of Mankato. The location is a pleasant one, but is too far from the city to be of easy access to the large body of the people. Over and over we have seen the necessity of locating our camp-meetings near the people if we want to have a large attendance. The people will not walk two miles out and back to attend the meeting, or pay twenty-five cents to be carried, unless there is something more attractive than religious meetings are to the generality of the people. We believe that if the meeting could have been close to the city, three times as many people would have attended.

The Methodists held a camp-meeting on the same ground about two weeks before. It was a small affair, and but thinly attended. Ours was a large meeting of our own people, and considering the. circumstances we had quite a representation from outside friends. There was an excellent feeling towards us in the community. The brethren have managed so as to secure the good will of the citizens to a very commendable degree.

The camp-meeting proper was preceded by a workers' meeting of nearly a week. Eld. Olsen, the other ministers, and the leading brethren were in attendance, working and preparing for the camp-meeting by erecting tents, etc., etc., and holding several religious services each day. They sought the Lord, and obtained a good measure of his blessing before the camp-meeting commenced. These preliminary meetings are excellent; and when the camp-meeting continues only one week, it seems really important that some such preliminary services should be held, that everything maybe in readiness by the time the brethren come on the ground. Besides, it gets everything into splendid shape, so that when the meeting commences full attention can be given to the religious interests of the occasion.

There were nearly one hundred and sixty tents on the ground, and upwards of one thousand of our people. There were several excellent features in the organization of the camp that are not always seen on camp-grounds. There were plenty of tents for holding Scandinavian, German, youth's, and children's meetings, so that these could be carried on whenever there was time for such services, without conflicting with each other. There was also a good dining tent to accommodate those who wished to get meals on the ground. And there was one thing we do not remember of seeing in any other camp-meeting – a reception tent for visitors, and especially for ladies with little children. It was pitched close by the large pavilion, so if a child worried it could be taken there. It was well supplied with easy chairs and cot beds, so that the little ones could roll around when it was very warm and keep cool, and yet the mothers could listen to what was being said. Quite a number of them expressed their highest appreciation of this kindness. We really think it is a commendable plan to have some place for those mothers who want to hear the preaching and yet have children to care for.

Special preparation was made for getting full reports of the meetings into the St. Paul and Minneapolis daily papers. Reports from a column and a half to two columns in length were given each day in each of these large papers, and were written by Elds. W. C. Gage and G. C. Tenney. These papers are read by many thousands of people, and we were indeed glad that these opportunities were given to place our views before the people. It requires much work and thought to do this reporting business in the way it should be done, and doubtless the time will come when it will have more attention than it has ever before received among us. Efforts were made to have the discourses so prepared that all the leading thoughts in each would be presented; especially those relating to this work and its progress. We look for the time when reports of our work will go out through all the leading papers of the land, and this, through the help of God, will result in hastening the loud cry of this message. The time has come when we want to increase our efforts and make plans to spread the truth through the world. This will not be nearly as difficult considering the size of our body and the means at our command as the work of our pioneers in the infancy of this message. They had to labor under greater obstacles than we now have. The public are ready to listen to the truths of this message, and the greatest hindrance to the progress of this work is the indifference and lack of zeal among our own people. It seems impossible to bring many of them where they have a proper sense of the importance of this work. These will no doubt drop out by the way, and others will come in and take their places and crowns.

There is a very marked increase in the work done in this Conference during the last year or two, and the labors of Eld. O. A. Olsen have been highly appreciated. The state of union and good feeling among the Sabbath-keepers has been very marked, and no one questions the wisdom of his connection with the Conference up to this point. The increase in the tract and missionary work and the amount done in the circulation of our publications and in other important directions has been very great indeed. The brethren seem to be united now heart and hand, and there is nothing to hinder the Conference from making the most rapid progress if the brethren generally will take hold and help.

In the Conference report the reader will notice the change in the presidency, Eld. G. C. Tenney being elected to fill the place held by Eld. Olsen. This was not because of any dissatisfaction, but solely because Eld. Olsen felt that the time had come for him to once more devote himself to the Scandinavian work, which he feels that God called him to fill years in the past. He was only elected president of the Minnesota Conference to relieve a special difficulty that existed and to help the work over a difficult place. And now that those obstacles are removed and progress is being made in the work, he feels that he must give himself to the work among the Scandinavian people. This part of the work is becoming very important. Large numbers of this nationality are found in Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, and other States. Our most important works are being translated into that tongue, and these books must be circulated; and here is a large field of usefulness. The work increased very rapidly under Bro. Olsen's labors before he became connected with these Western Conferences; but while bearing the burden of all these responsibilities connected with the Conferences he cannot carry it forward as he could before. Very likely Bro. Olsen will go over to Europe and spend a season there before another year passes by. This will be a help to the cause there and a help to him in a better acquisition of the language. Therefore he will need the present year to look after many of the interests in the Scandinavian work in this country. He therefore sees the necessity of dropping his connection with these State Conferences and devoting his time to this branch of the work. Eld. Tenney has had considerable experience with Conference work in the past, and we trust that this selection will prove a benefit to the cause in Minnesota.

Our religious meetings were interesting, and the people responded to the stirring truths adapted to the present stage of the work, and seemed to feel the importance of taking hold with greater energy. On the Sabbath nearly two hundred came forward for prayers. This was not a general call to all of our brethren and sisters who felt the need of a greater spiritual life, but to those that were specially backslidden or who had never made a profession. The Spirit of God softened many hearts. We felt that it was very good to be there. Many friends were present from the outside and from other churches. These manifested a deep feeling, and were greatly impressed with the earnest interest shown in the meetings. The Methodist minister of the place was present at quite a number of the services, and at times seemed deeply affected. The people that attended all manifested a friendly and courteous interest in our work. The meetings on Sunday were attended perhaps by a thousand or more not of our faith. These gave excellent attention, and seemed to be highly pleased. The truth was faithfully presented to them, and we hope that much good will result.

On Monday our meetings were interesting and profitable. About $2800 were pledged for the missions and South Lancaster school. Two-thirds of the twenty thousand dollars pledged last year is yet unpaid, which of course makes it very difficult to raise money for other purposes. Earnest efforts were made to increase an interest in the canvassing and missionary work, and to bring up the public sentiment on the tithing question. Our revival service on Monday forenoon was profitable. A large number came forward for prayers, and quite a deep feeling was manifest. Upwards of seventy were baptized. Tuesday morning the meeting closed with the ordination of Brn. William Schram, W. B. White, and H. P. Holser to the ministry. The blessing of the Lord was present, and all felt confident that these brethren would make faithful workers.

Eld. Starr remained with the members of the Conference Committee and all the brethren who were going out to labor, to give further instruction in Bible readings and other missionary work. We have never seen the time when the Minnesota Conference had before it such a bright prospect as at present. If the brethren take hold with interest; we shall see a great number brought into the truth in the near future. The attendance was larger than at any other Conference we have met with excepting Michigan, though the membership is about the same there as in Wisconsin and Iowa; yet a much larger number attend the camp-meetings, and thus show their interest in the work. These other Conferences will be left far behind if they do not manifest a deeper interest in attending these important meetings.

We believe the plan is to hold the next camp-meeting in Minneapolis, close to the city, where we can get access to the people. The influence of these two meetings at Mankato has been very marked. We have never attended a camp-meeting where there seemed to be a better spirit of friendliness on the part of the people generally. Much of the prejudice that existed has been broken down. This has been because those managing have tried to show a friendly interest in the welfare of the people. Instead of arguing, contending, and fighting, they have shown a desire to treat them kindly, and interest themselves in their condition.

ELDER GEORGE I. BUTLER – Review and Herald, July 14, 1885

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 

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