For the third straight year , I camped for the weekend to help support the fellow men from my church from congregations all over Oregon, and a little beyond (a few men came from other places and from other churches). In organizing this review in some kind of fashion, I would first like to talk about the overall conditions, and then I would like to talk about the events of this weekend, which ended a bit earlier than before, and finally I would like to reflect on the themes and the overall comments that kept on occurring over and over again. Every year seems to have its own feel, and while the place may be the same (as it was last year, a on farm near Corvallis), the difference in theme and the specific mix of people makes the event different every time it is held.
This particular year was interesting for a few reasons. For one, I took the long way there, or at least a longer way there. I thought I had remembered a shortcut to avoid at least some of downtown Corvallis, but it wasn’t Peoria Road, a road which ended up taking me down to 99E, when went on to Junction City before I was able to turn back onto 99W and arrive at the farm. During the weekend, there was a fair amount of rain, and especially on the Sabbath, there was a lot of wind. The tents managed to withstand all of the wind and rain, and no one ended up with soggy belongings that I am aware of. The rain did end up affecting events slightly, by encouraging the organizers to end the weekend a bit early and combine events in the hope that everyone would be able to leave before any afternoon storms came in, and also by moving services from the open air in front of the tiny house to a small area enclosed in the barn with a lectern and where people had to avoid the various rat manure. It was definitely the manliest site I can imagine for a church service, no doubt about that, and even the format was highly unconventional, with four sermonettes and no sermon. It seemed a bit bothersome that for the third year there was speaking going on and no one thought to ask me to speak.
As far as the events go, a brief summary of the events is as follows. For reasons unknown to me, there are still some people who claim that this event is a cry-fest, without ever having given a thought to the manliness of sleeping in tents (or campers) and generally roughing it. If I’m manly enough for this kind of event, no one else should have any excuse not to be. The keynote address was short, the fellowship went well and carried on late into the night, late enough for me to head off to sleep before it was completely done. During the Sabbath, there was a Bible Study and then, after a break of about an hour or so, four sermonettes. The Bible Study looked at three things that we can give to build the spiritual temple–namely the Church as a whole: time, sacrifice, and service. I pondered, for example, the difficulties that some people face with serving in various ways because of the larger context. The four sermonettes were tied together in a theme, and had been assigned by the person who gave the Bible Study, the first one being on Christ, the chief cornerstone, by which the dimensions of the building were set (like the origin in a Cartesian graph). The next sermonette looked at the foundation of faith that we must build on, the third sermonette on the walls, and the fourth sermonette on the interior decoration of love. As the Sabbath was ending there was a game popularized by the Pittsburgh Posse and a breakout session where groups of people answered serious questions about what practical application we expect to take from the weekend, how we expect to build up others, and what sort of matters hinder us from being able to encourage and edify others. The conversation was, for the most part, lively and on topic. Today there was a combined breakout session/group event where we built various structures with blocks that proved deeper spiritual lessons and encouraged teamwork and unity.
Concerning the general parts of conversation, there were a few areas I found highly interesting. For one, somewhat annoyingly, at least a couple of the other people seemed to be a bit argumentative about matters like the Civil War, seeking to promote the cause of the South, for reasons unknown to me. At least half a dozen times during the course of the weekend, I heard various people from all over Oregon complain about the lack of support for this event from the men of Portland. Given that Portland is by far the largest congregation in this part of the Northwest, there is an expectation that Portland will send its “fair share” of men to the event, and even though at least a few guys from the area (including two speakers) showed up only for the activities on Sabbath, there were only about a half a dozen (or fewer) guys from our congregation who were camping throughout, and that was only about as many men as much smaller congregations like Medford and Bend. It was a bit irritating to continually have to defend the honor of my congregation and its willingness to support other congregation’s events like this, and I found it a bit insensitive that other people would complain about my congregation to me. Additionally, at least a few times there were comments that I found insensitive concerning my status as a single man. A few people thought it worthwhile to talk about the way they liked to sleep with their wives, and other assorted comments, to which I could only reply with a rather unhappy silence, even as we, at one point, sought to find ways to encourage a man in another congregation who recently lost his wife and has been deeply depressed about it. Being manly and being a band of brothers for others means never leaving anyone behind, never turning our back from any opportunity to build up and encourage others and set a good example for others. We cannot do these tasks unless we get to know each other, and see beyond the casual and superficial understanding we obtain about our brothers and sisters from brief conversations at church.
 See, for example: