With the Hayden Band Shell dressed to look like a boxing ring, the theme for Massachusetts Family Camp was reinforced throughout the weekend: Worth Fighting For—Our Families, Our Communities, Our God. So it was appropriate that Friday evening worship kicked off with the corps worship band from the City of Champions,
home of Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. “Do you know what’s worth fighting for?” Worship leader James Cox inquired of the crowd between songs, “My family—my church family up here with me from the Brockton Corps!”
Special Guests Commissioners William and Marilyn Francis(R) enjoyed returning to Camp Wonderland where he had worked as a young person and where they served as camp directors and Divisional Youth Secretaries for five summers. In his Bible study, Commissioner Francis implored the capacity crowd, “All Christians must become theologians—not just those who go to school to study. In the Greek, theo means God and logos means word, a rational discourse, so theology is a rational discourse about God.”
Saturday morning’s “Personal Training” sessions focused on the theme with such workshops as Stay in the Ring – Building a marriage that lasts facilitated byMajor Ivan Rock with a panel of couples. Delegates could also choose to attend Team Sparring — How small groups can make a real impact with Major Janet Zúñiga or Perfect Stance – Defending your faith without shutting down the conversation led by Lieutenant Michael Harper
After the morning workout, Saturday afternoon offered a host of family fun options from swimming and boating to softball to carnival games and inflatables. A highlight of the afternoon was the addition of a Spanish music concert by Massachusetts corps musicians.
All weekend long and especially on Saturday evening, the children of the division were treated to magic and a mustache party with Captains Angelo and Virginia Bermeo, Territorial Evangelists. While that happened nearby, Amanda Thompson from the Worcester Citadel Corps shared her testimony of hanging tough through the loss of her brother, Henry and other life challenges. “I took the GED test four times. Failed it three times, but only needed to pass it once. I never would have believed that I would go on to graduate from Gordon College with a double major.” Amanda now leads the life skills court diversion program, Bridging the Gap, which is making a real difference in the lives of first-time offender adolescents.
Commissioner Francis continued his Bible study exploring the call for Christians to know, love, follow. “We need to move beyond knowing facts to knowing by experience.”
After morning Sunday School in four different venues, Sunday morning worship was highlighted by the Family Camp Chorus singing an original song by Assistant Music & Gospel Arts Director, Anne Rich. With beautiful harmonies and a dramatic finish, the entire congregation was moved to “Open up and let the King of Glory in.”
In her signature fashion, Commissioner Marilyn Francis encouraged all present with her testimony. “I got over by my fear when I looked into Jesus’ face.” Her verbal testimony was followed by a dramatic vocal testimony at the piano.
Commissioner Francis brought the weekend’s teaching to a head with the question, “How are you going to get beyond your fear?” The answer, which many sought at the mercy seat following the sermon, was radical trust in Jesus as Savior.
Worth Fighting For, another Anne Rich original sung by the Family Camp Children’s Choir, kicked off the afternoon farewell service for Accepted Candidate Joshua Brookman from the Pittsfield Corps. Divisional Youth and Candidates Secretary, Captain Jason Knaggs shared, “Josh Brookman is a quiet guy, but when you meet him, it’s clear that he’s a disciple of the cross, that he loves Jesus.” When the call was given, 14 people followed in Brookman’s footsteps to declare a call to Salvation Army officership in their own lives.
Nearly 500 delegates return to their communities with a crystal clear understanding of what is worth fighting for, and with tools and encouragement to repeat with our founder, General William Booth, “I’ll Fight.”