Still Developing: The local church and Falls Creek

From the beginning of Falls Creek, the relationship between the local church and the camp has been based on a mutually beneficial bond. From a summer encampment for the Baptist Young People’s Union (BYPU) in 1917, Falls Creek has grown to become a year-round conference center addressing children, church musicians, single adults, college students, men’s and women’s ministries, church volunteers—the  list of groups and the call that Moorer and Rounds sensed from God grows with each new year. In 1917, after that first affirming summer, Baptist leaders predicted that Falls Creek would form the foundation of “…a great denominational university of methods…” representing “…every line of denominational interest…” With each year, Falls Creek stretches and adapts to fulfill that vision, and in return, Falls Creek has been a blessing for the local church since 1917. “Hot Dog” Lee, the first President of the Indian Territory BYPU in 1901, stated later in 1954, “The most outstanding thing I remember about Falls Creek in the 30 years I attended was the outstanding spirit of cooperation that prevailed.” This same spirit of cooperation has prevailed inside Falls Creek and between the churches of what has become the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. The vote of the BYPU convention approved the location of the camp that had been discovered by W.D. Moorer and J.B. Rounds. Record years of attendance show a correlation between Falls Creek and local church baptisms, attributed in no small part to churches bringing youth to Falls Creek. Church leaders have said more than once that the largest opportunity for our churches to reach their youth has been during the summer at Falls Creek. Considering the need to reach young people early and to develop a strong discipleship pattern in their lives before they enter college where their belief system will be challenged as never before, Falls Creek has been a great blessing for many young people. The faithful proclamation of the Gospel at Falls Creek, where attendees will hear the best preachers who will speak the truth of God for their lives and draw the net for their salvation, has kept God’s hand of blessing on this special place. As we approach the end of 2015, we stand a little more than a year away from 2017 and the 100th anniversary of Falls Creek. There is an opportunity again to confirm the strong relationship between Falls Creek and the Southern Baptist churches of Oklahoma. Church members, staff, deacons, musicians and missionaries have been called to the ministry at Falls Creek. For many of these individuals, the first time they clearly heard the call of God on their lives was at Falls Creek. The Southern Baptist churches of Oklahoma, through the ministry of Falls Creek, have blessed countless other states and countries by the godly people who have ministered to them. Share the wonderful story of what Falls Creek has accomplished in the spiritual formation of more than 2.3 million people who have passed through the gates of Falls Creek since 1917. Let your congregation know that through your church’s Cooperative Program dollars , they had a part in reaching 63,982 people for salvation, 34,569 calls to ministry and a quarter of a million (250,000) decisions. Remind your church that the current tabernacle and the buildings under construction are being paid for through individual donations, and then ask them to consider giving a gift for Falls Creek. We have many choices in which to invest our income. After the biblical support of your local church, there is no other entity that will better proclaim the Gospel, prepare disciples, and provide...

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Still developing: Our tools

“Our tools were three star drills, a sledge, two shovels, two picks, one grubbing hoe and a wheelbarrow. … Under dad’s supervision we learned the art of drilling then blasting—our main trouble?—only three star drills and no money to buy more. It fell to me to hike in to Dougherty, a town on the Santa Fe about six or seven miles away, to have the drills resharpened about every other day as we could find no blacksmith any closer…We must have drilled over 250 holes and blasted through the limestone ledges to make these three cuts and fills. After three months of back-breaking labor, we finally had the rough part done, needing only to clear the right of way of small brush, debris, and a few large trees.” (Sights and Sounds of Falls Creek by J.M. Gaskin) In the previous paragraph, J.B. Rounds, Jr. was explaining the struggle of building the road into Falls Creek. The task was long and laborious, but the final result allowed for the camp to begin in 1917. Current improvements to Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center are no less labor intensive. One hundred workers are finishing the Jordan Welcome Center, Thompson Family Lodge and Mathena Family Event Center with much-improved tools than the ones J.B. Rounds, Jr. used. The construction changes to the campus because of the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign (FCCC) are not being undertaken by us individually. Still, we do have the opportunity to participate personally in the process. Our tools: You have tools to help. The tools you possess can make an immediate difference now and for the future. Let me suggest some tools you have at your disposal. Your financial gift: Making a donation to the FCCC will help complete the project in a timely fashion, and a bonus to your gift is that the Downing Matching Fund will equal what you give to the campaign, dollar for dollar, up to the Downing’s $2.3 million pledge. Your influence: Your influence and encouragement to a friend, family member or church will go a long way in assisting the FCCC. Sharing your influence to inspire financial gifts from others is needed as we approach the 100th anniversary of Falls Creek and seek to do so debt free. Your time: Take some time and bring someone to Falls Creek for an event. That person’s life could be changed for eternity. Use the environment of the camp itself. You have the privilege to be a part of a premier Christian camp. When people come to Falls Creek, they are blown away that a Christian camp of this size and beauty exists. Your Falls Creek story: You, a family member or your church all have a Falls Creek story. Share the story with someone—the amazing story of two men listening to God and sharing with others their passion for souls to come to know Jesus. Peak someone’s interest and even if they can’t go to Falls Creek, they will be blessed by what has happened there in your life. Your prayers: Prayer is a powerful tool. Since Rounds and Moorer prayed for the first time at Falls Creek under a strand of trees and asked God to reveal His will for the camp, prayer has been the foundation of Falls Creek. Please decide today to use the tools you have to complete the FCCC journey so that many more souls will be saved because you used all your tools to build a road to bring someone to Jesus. Contact Marty Harkey for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868,...

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Still Developing: The electric button

The “Bitter Enders” club was organized originally for a serious purpose. However, in due time, the club became more a form of recreation than a program of constructive work. The idea originated with W.D. Moorer. Fred McCaulley says, “Moorer was a man who believed in staying with a thing until he saw it through to a finish. He started the ‘Bitter Enders’ to enlist people in a program of study which would carry them right on through until the end of the encampment.” (Sights & Sounds of Falls Creek by J.M. Gaskin) McCaulley remembers when Jim H. Fisher, a Shawnee banker, was engaged in what was purported to be a fundraising program for improvement on the assembly grounds. Benches on which the “Bitter Enders” were seated had been previously wired and connected to a heavy-duty battery. At the proper moment, to bring the gag to a climax, Fisher said, “I will give $1,000—how many of you will join me?” Then the button was pushed and everyone stood up! (Sights & Sounds of Falls Creek by J.M. Gaskin) This year, the construction phase of the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign is coming to an end. Each month, we get closer to our goal of $4.7 million. The campaign thermometer now is over the $3.18 million mark. Now is the important push to see Phase I of the campaign completed. The Jordan Welcome Center, Thompson Family Lodge and Mathena Family Event Center buildings are almost completed, but the buildings need to be furnished before they are ready for use next year. By 2017, it is very possible to have the remaining debt eliminated for the R.A. Young Tabernacle and all these new buildings paid for completely. Your help is needed now more than ever. I want to ask, like the Shawnee banker, “How many of you will join me?” There isn’t an electric button, though, to motivate such immediate agreement the same way the banker did, but there are certainly great motivations and opportunities to give to the campaign. If you sponsor one of the unsponsored remaining seats in the R.A. Young Tabernacle at $500, the Downing matching fund will match your gift dollar for dollar.  With all the remaining seats sold, the goal would be near. There are also 50 sponsorship opportunities in the Thompson Family Lodge for furnishing rooms at $10,000 a room. Again, with the Downing matching money, your gift’s effectiveness doubles. Making payments over a few years is an option, as well. Your investment in the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign will reap eternal benefits for the new Christians who are saved in a seat you sponsor. This summer, there were 4,651 total decisions; 1,938 were professions of faith. Currently, 80,000 people attend Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center all year. With the completion of the new buildings, the new attendance norm is projected to be more than 120,000 a year. The result of your gift will be more missionaries in the field, and more ministers in the pulpit. That should push anyone’s button to give! Contact me for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868, mharkey@bgco.org, or toll free at...

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Still Developing: They blazed the way

“I’ll never forget that first assembly, for we blazed the way. We went on the train to what was called Rayford Switch, south of Davis. We crossed the river (Washita) in a boat, then took a wagon drawn by two mules to the grounds. There were about six or eight passengers. One was E.E. ‘Hot Dog’ Lee. The wagon stalled on one high hill. We all got out and Mr. Jones and ‘Hot Dog’ put their shoulders to the wheel to help get the wagon up the hill. We ate under a tent and met under brush arbors. We slept on canvass cots under a tarpaulin stretched between two trees. It was very primitive but lots of fun.” (From Sights & Sounds of Falls Creek by J.M. Gaskin) No roads, a handful of attendees, wagons, mules and sleeping under the stars have given way to the premier Christian encampment that we now call Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. Each summer, more than 55,000 campers arrive in cars, church vans or chartered buses (not wagons drawn by mules). New roads lead into the camp (where there were none in 1917) where campers attend worship services in a state-of-the-art, 7,000-seat tabernacle (rather than a brush arbor). Laundry isn’t done in a 14-inch wash pan either with water from the creek. A new water tower, emblazoned with the logo of Falls Creek, provides 650,000 gallons of water at the twist of a handle. While Falls Creek is no longer primitive, the summer fun has not changed, just the way it is experienced. A 5K run, zip lines, canoeing, swimming, hiking, multiple climbing challenges, horseshoes, basketball, disc golf, skating and softball are a few of the choices. However, Falls Creek is more than eight weeks in the summer! It is a year-round conference center. Nearly as many people participate in conferences and retreats at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center at other times during the year as attend the youth encampments in the summer. What has never changed is Falls Creek’s spiritual foundation and motivation to see lost young people come to know Christ. That first year, J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer prayed for just one decision to show that God’s favor was on the camp. They saw twice what they prayed for—two decisions! This year, 4,651 decisions were made during the summer; 1,938 professions of faith and 507 calls to ministry. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, almost 56,000 young people have heard God’s call and made a decision for Christ; 19,000 were for salvation and almost 9,000 young people have answered the call to ministry. This summer, I had the privilege to share with campers and sponsors in the new Jordan Welcome Center how the new buildings will be used and some of the history of Falls Creek. It’s always exciting to hear a young person say, “this is my first year to come,” or hear sponsors tell how many decades they have appreciated coming to Falls Creek. As the 100th anniversary approaches, now would be a perfect time to show your appreciation for all of those who have blazed the way for us at Falls Creek by making a gift or multi-year pledge. Oh, that future generations will look back and say of us that we blazed the way for them to meet the Lord at Falls Creek. Contact me about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868, mharkey@bgco.org, or toll free at...

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Still Developing: In His timing

“For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45 HCSB) While God’s plan may not be readily evident, we accept from the Father both the sun and rain in His timing. Growing up and pastoring in Oklahoma most of my life, it was difficult to hear that a week of Falls Creek summer camp had to be cancelled. After the recent devastating flooding at Falls Creek, hundreds of volunteers and Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center summer staff repaired the camp so Week 5 of Falls Creek could take place. Because of God, the BGCO staff and many friends, a herculean task was accomplished in the past two weeks. We praise God and applaud the work of the hundreds who have made the remaining weeks of Falls Creek encampment possible. Thousands of young people are happy these volunteers and staff worked as hard as they did. One grandmother at church asked me if her 13-year-old grandson, who was looking forward to his first year at Falls Creek, was going to have to miss attending camp this year. At the time, I didn’t know. Last week, her grandson and thousands of other campers were able to attend and hear the Gospel presented in many ways. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, 51,000 young people have heard God’s call in this hallowed place. Of that number, 17,000 have answered the call to salvation and 8,000 have answered the call to ministry. More people have surrendered their lives to missions at Falls Creek than any other place on the face of the Earth. Because of the extraordinary efforts of many workers over the last two weeks, hundreds more decisions will be added to those historic numbers. The way Oklahoma Baptists have built and rebuilt Falls Creek across the years, physically and spiritually, has been with historic Baptist cooperation, many hours of sweat equity and the generosity of countless Falls Creek donors. While construction has halted temporarily for the summer, the construction crews will be back after the camps end to complete the Thompson Family Lodge and the Mathena Family Event Center by the end of the year. While those buildings are paid for, the rooms inside must be furnished and that is where we need your help today. Also, because of the Downing $2.3 million matching fund, your gift of any size will be doubled, which means $1 becomes $2 and $10,000 become $20,000. Please pray about sponsoring a room in the Thompson Family Lodge through a three-year pledge or a one-time gift today and make the most of your donation dollars with the Downing matching fund’s doubling influence. Remember, your gifts to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign are not merely about the buildings, but mainly about the lives of people who are eternally changed in those buildings. Your gift today will answer the question of the next grandmother who asks whether Falls Creek will be ready for her grandchild. This recent flood event may be a gentle nudge that this is the time for you to give to the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign. Please ask the Lord what your gift should be to help complete the inside of the buildings and pay off the debt on the R.A. Young Tabernacle. The Lord’s timing is always best for us. When we cannot see what is ahead, we can see His hand all around us working for our good. Contact me for more information about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868,...

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