(1967 - Current)
One doesn't have to be aged to remember when campmeetings were first held in Hutchinson at Maplewood Academy. Many may not be aware, however, that campmeeting had been held in Hutchinson many years earlier, long before Maplewood Academy existed. In 1877 and 1878 it was reported that the campmeeting was held in Hutchinson in a grove close to the river – the river being used for the baptisms that were always attendant to campmeetings in those days. Many families came via covered wagon and camped for the entire 12 day campmeeting. Again, in 1910 and 1911, seeking a quiet haven away from the growing and bustling Minneapolis-St. Paul city areas and wanting to be near the newly opened Danish-Norwegian Seminary, campmeeting returned to Hutchinson in a well-shaded city park located a couple of blocks from the downtown area. The group was well-received by the local residents and it was reported as being a very fine campmeeting. Hutchinson was again considered as a campmeeting location in 1919, but it was decided that it was not as suitable as other locations because there was no direct railroad line from the north - thus campers from the north would have to travel to Minneapolis-St. Paul and then transfer to a train that traveled to Hutchinson.
Hutchinson was not a campmeeting site again until 1967. Once campmeeting had left the Medicine Lake campground, the annual gathering had wandered about the state for several years, having no permanent home. In 1967, however, the new gymnasium-auditorium was being built at Maplewood Academy, and it seemed that Hutchinson, once again, would be an ideal location for Minnesota Campmeeting. And so it was, that in 1967, with finishing touches to the new auditorium having just been completed just a few hours before the first meeting, Adventists, once again returned to Hutchinson for a spiritual feast. The north woods had been cleaned out for campers and had acquired new graveled roads. While a plan had been made to create rest rooms complete with showers in the north woods, they were not able to be completed for the 1967 meeting, being completed at a later date. The "Book and Bible House," located in the Music Hall in 1967, was reported as doing a record business – selling $13,230.28 worth of foods and books to share the Advent message in Minnesota.
It was at Hutchinson in 1969 that they celebrated the 100th anniversary of Seventh-day Adventist campmeetings in Minnesota. The Hutchinson church presented a moving drama portraying such events as happened in 1869 when the first camp meeting was held at Wasioja. How fitting that such a celebration could be held in Hutchinson, for "Hutch" has been the center of Adventist work for decades - through the years, Hutchinson Theological Seminary and Maplewood Academy both have trained countless dedicated workers who have traveled throughout North America and all around the world, serving their Saviour and spreading the gospel.
For nearly fifty years now, the annual campmeeting has been gathering at Hutchinson – this being the longest continuously running campmeeting site in Minnesota. Each year has brought a spiritual feast - through the years, speakers have included well-known names such as H. M. S. Richards along with other leaders from a variety of conference levels; music has been provided by talented artists such as Del Delker, The King's Heralds, The Wedgewood Trio, Maplewood Academy choirs, and a host of local talented musicians; and every year, Adventists meet with old friends, recalling many fond memories of past campmeetings. While some factors have changed since the early days - we no longer have to travel by train or covered wagon; other qualities have remained constant - the spiritually uplifting speakers, the heavenly music, and meeting with fellow Adventists to remember time spent together in past meetings and to look forward to the day when we all can meet for a heavenly campmeeting on the shores of the sea of glass!