Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


The Newcastle Camp Meeting

While still in Brisbane, near the close of the second week of meetings, a letter was received from A. G. Daniells setting forth the opportunities and needs of such cities as Newcastle and Maitland, cities within twenty or thirty miles from Cooranbong. In eight weeks a thrust begun in Newcastle would be tapered off, and Ellen White saw it as a time to “see who can be brought to stand with us in obedience to the Sabbath” (Manuscript 187, 1898). As she and W. C. White considered the matter, they were impressed that they should fit in a camp meeting in December just before the meeting in Melbourne appointed for January. Others concurred. 4BIO 371.1

Newcastle was a seaport in a coal-mining district about twenty miles from Cooranbong. Ellen White states: 4BIO 371.2

We thought we could plant the banner of truth here, and a church be raised up, as in Stanmore. It would be a special strength to Cooranbong, for Newcastle is our nearest place of trade, and it is a matter of importance to us to see a company raised up here.—Letter 131, 1898. 4BIO 371.3

The large tent used for the meetings in Brisbane was needed in Melbourne, so a new tent was hired for the Newcastle meeting. The rental was £15, with the option to purchase it if money could be raised to meet the price. Ellen White described it as “a very large tent, the largest we have ever had the privilege of speaking under.... It has proved to be the most substantial tent we have ever seen.”—Ibid. In his report of the camp meeting, G. B. Starr spoke of it as “the largest pavilion yet used by our people in these colonies,” (UCR, January 15, 1899). 4BIO 371.4

For several months Herbert Lacey had been holding evangelistic meetings in the city (Letter 128, 1898). Reading matter had been circulated freely, and the place had been well canvassed with books. The time was ripe for reaping the harvest. The working force in the conference thought of this camp meeting as “the smallest of the season held in the Australian colonies—just a little one, tucked in between the Queensland and Victorian meetings” (UCR, January 15, 1899). W. C. White wrote that “when this meeting was appointed, we thought that we might gather about one hundred of our own people” and a modest attendance from the city (12 WCW, p. 402). 4BIO 372.1

But to the surprise of everyone, when the meeting opened on Thursday night, December 22, there were a thousand people present (Letter 131, 1898). Ellen White drove over from Cooranbong with Sara McEnterfer on Friday, a hot and oppressive day (Letter 130, 1898). From a conference of four hundred members, two hundred were there at the camp meeting. 4BIO 372.2

New South Wales had suffered a long and severe drought, but the first weekend of the camp meeting this was broken by strong winds and heavy rains, beginning Friday night. Ellen White describes the storm: 4BIO 372.3