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


Preparation for the Camp Meeting

For weeks in Melbourne there was feverish preparation for the convocation. At the Bible Echo office, not only printing presses were in operation, but sewing machines also. Family tents were being made in three sizes for the camp meeting. Prices and styles of what might be purchased in the city did not fit the plans of the camp meeting committee, so good material was secured, and by early November, thirty-five were ready for sale or for rent. 4BIO 113.3

The committee on location found a ten-acre tract of land, grass-covered and partly shaded by eucalyptus trees (blue gum), in the suburb of Middle Brighton, nine miles from the Melbourne post office. It was south of the city, near the bay, and was served by an excellent railway line that had trains running every thirty minutes from morning till late at night. 4BIO 114.1

The weekly issues of the Bible Echo reminded readers, both Seventh-day Adventists and others, of the coming meeting and the excellence of the location—“one of the nicest and most accessible places we have been able to find” (The Bible Echo, November 8, 1893)—and the plans for tenting on the grounds. 4BIO 114.2

The Bible Echo for December 8 carried an Ellen White appeal for an outstanding attendance, as she pointed out the objectives of the meeting. It was to be a time of spiritual refreshing for the church and also an effective means of reaching the city with the third angel's message. “Come to the Feast” was the title of the three-column invitation, which opened with the words: 4BIO 114.3

Dear Brethren and Sisters in Australia,

The first Australian camp meeting among us as a people is about to take place. This meeting will mark a new era in the history of the work of God in this field; it is important that every member of our churches should be present, and I urge you all to come. The enemies of truth are many, and though our numbers are few, we would present as good a front as possible. Individually you need the benefits of the meeting, and God calls upon you to number one of the ranks of truth. 4BIO 114.4

Combining the two strong reasons for everyone to come, she wrote: 4BIO 114.5

God has committed to our hands a most sacred work, and we need to meet together to receive instruction as to what is personal religion and family piety; we need to understand what part we shall individually be called upon to act in the grand and important work of building up the cause and work of God in the earth, in vindicating God's holy law, and in lifting up the Saviour as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” 4BIO 114.6

Notice was also given of some of the best help the denomination could supply in making the meetings a success. The president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists would be present. Ellen White and W. C. White would be there; and Dr. M. G. Kellogg, ship physician for the Pitcairn, would be giving instruction along health lines. One notice especially delighted the believers of a few years: 4BIO 115.1

Our readers will be pleased to hear that Elder J. O. Corliss, who spent some time in Australia five or six years since, is now on his way back, accompanied by Elder W. A. Colcord. They expect to be with us at our camp meeting.—The Review and Herald, December 1, 1893. 4BIO 115.2

It was announced also that there would be a dining tent on the campgrounds, “furnished with tables, dishes, chairs, et cetera, and with proper waiters to serve the meals.” (Ibid., November 22, 1893). 4BIO 115.3

A week-long workers’ meeting would immediately precede the camp meeting, so the pitching of tents began on Tuesday, December 26. Initial plans called for fifty family tents, but these were taken so early that orders were given for twenty-five more. 4BIO 115.4

Attendance was so large at the workers’ meeting that Ellen White exclaimed in her letter to Edson and Emma White: “We are now on the ground, where to all appearances there is a veritable camp meeting.”—Letter 86, 1894. And when on Tuesday, January 2, the large pavilion was pitched and she was asked to speak in it in the evening, she wrote that she “was surprised that so large a number of believers were on the ground.” 4BIO 115.5