Seventh-day Adventist campers in South Australia were joined by hundreds of Lutheran worshippers from the Barossa Valley region for a combined Good Friday Easter service on April 18.
The South Australian Conference’s Big Camp meetings are held at Faith Lutheran College in Tanunda, traditionally during the first week of the April school holidays.
“That created something of a problem,” said Pastor Garry Hodgkin, one of the organisers of the program. “The Barossa Lutherans normally utilise this facility for a combined Easter service.”
“Because of that clash, they actually approached us and said, ‘Look, would you be prepared to do a combined worship event on Good Friday?’ We thought about it, we prayed about it, and thought it would be a worthwhile project.”
The program featured musical items from Seventh-day Adventist musical group One Accord, as well as praise time, led by Gilson College chaplain Pastor Mau Tuaoi. Heather Slade from the Lutheran group shared a children’s story, before ministers from both the Lutheran and Seventh-day Adventist Church presented short sermonettes on the significance of Easter.
Lutheran senior Pastor David Gogoll presented on the practical outcomes of the cross. “There are all sorts of theories, we call them the theories of atonement, about what actually happened on the cross. But at the heart of what happened on the cross was that God wants a relationship with you. That God loves you,” he told the capacity crowd.
A presentation by South Australian Conference president Pastor David Butcher followed, speaking on the practical meaning of resurrection. “God’s love is all encompassing,” he preached. “But we live in a world of pain and the resurrection, the return of Jesus provides the only hope.”
Reflecting on combined worship, Pastor Hodgkin said, “This event was not planned as an ecumenical gathering, but rather as a wonderful opportunity to express friendship and provide witness to other Christian people.”
“The thing that I particularly appreciate about this service is that we’ve got other individuals coming along to our Big Camp who are not Seventh-day Adventist. In this particular gathering today, we had about 400 Lutherans. We had about 350 Adventists. So often at our Big Camps, it’s a matter of us talking to ourselves.”
Pastor Butcher echoed these sentiments. “One of the things we want to look at is how to better connect with the local community when we do run camp.”
The event was also live streamed by local production ministry, Living Ministry Media.