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May They Be One

previously published in July 2004

“I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”  This is a passage taken from Jesus’ longest prayer found in John 17:23.  I have attended a total of 15 east coast campmeetings and 1 west coast campmeeting.  I was born in New York and lived there until the age of 4.  Then, our family moved to Indiana and lived there for 14 years.  I guess you can say I am a “Hoosier.”  It has only been 2 years since our family has made the transcontinental transition to Loma Linda, California in the summer of 2002.  I have attended one year at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, MI and one year at Pacific Union College in Angwin, CA. 

I have had the opportunity to take part in the worship experiences of both coasts and have made several observations regarding some of the differences.  Before I mention these differences, I do understand that some of these statements could be biased, may be pertained to only certain people, and may have many loopholes, but I ask you to hear me out.  Generally, the people that live in the west coast are more liberal in their views than the people of the east.  There are several examples that support this statement:
1. The issue of drums in the church is not as controversial on the west as it is in the east.  Drums are almost essential in worship services at campmeetings and churches.  The PUC campus church even allows the usage of drums at the 11:00 service!  There would be a major uproar if even drumsticks were seen in the Pioneer Memorial Church at Andrews University.  Worship services tend to be more hyped up in the west consisting of more clapping and even dancing to some degree.  Although there are a few churches that include drums in the east, they are not as prevalent as in the west.  The smaller sizes of many of the congregations of churches in the east could be a factor, which may affect the church’s ability to finance such an instrument, but generally the east’s view on drums is much more conservative. 
2. The moral views of Adventist lifestyle are comparably more liberal than the east.  For example, eating out for lunch on the Sabbath after church service with a group of people is considered perfectly fine for the liberalists whereas a conservative east coast group would tend to wait for the sun to set to go out for dinner.  Another example is the serving of drinks that contain caffeine on the campus of Pacific Union College.  Most of the Adventist colleges in the east would not even think twice about allowing a drug on campus. 
3. Based on my observations, more Koreans on the west have their hairs bleached than in the east.  Another observation is in the clothes worn.  Many of the Koreans in the west tend to wear a lot more bright colored clothes that consist of colors such as bright orange, red, and yellow.  These colors are very seldom worn in the east, at least from my observations.  Although it would be unfair for me to generalize a group as a whole, based on my own experiences, the general character of people in the west is in a word, “outgoing.”  A word to describe east coast people would be “reserved.”  You could generally expect to see more involvement in church activities and discussions in groups at a west coast church than at an east coast church.  Another example is that while both the east coast and the west coast are cliquish especially amongst their own cultural groups, the west can tend to form cliques within this clique of people more than the people in the east.  This could be due to the fact that because there generally are more members of a church in the west than a church in the east, there is a greater potential for two personalities to clash.  I have once spoken with a native Californian who has attended a few east coast campmeetings along with his many west coast campmeetings.  He and I both came to an agreement that there was more of a family type atmosphere at the east coast campmeeting because of the genuine friendliness of all members of the body and that this same family type atmosphere would be difficult to form at a west coast campmeeting because the majority of the members of the body associate with only members of their own churches.  After all, it is all about church pride especially for the basketball tournament, right?

These have been just a fraction of the many differences I have observed between the two coasts.  I believe there are many lessons that could be taught and learned from both the east and the west.  Many of you will be attending campeetings at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown and Pacific Union College soon.  I want to explain to you my thoughts on campeeting.  Campmeeting is a time for koinonia, the Greek word for Christian fellowship.  However, it is not merely for socialization as some of the younger generation perceive it to be, but for fellowship in the gospel.  Sure, have your fun in seeing old friends and making new ones, but please do not forget the essence of what the whole purpose for campmeeting is all about.  It should be a time to delve into the word and sing praises while strengthening and growing in your Christian walk.  As a church, we should be one body in Christ.  Don’t get caught up in the stereotypes of the east and the west.  If you really want to know how different the west is from the east or vice versa, go see for yourself.  However, these differences should not be our primary focus.  We need to set aside our differences and worship Him as one body.  This is exactly what Christ prayed for in his longest prayer.  Christ is the sun that shines on us, the air we breathe, the living water, and the heartbeat of all that we do.  Make a grand effort to really get to know him, love him, and serve him during and after your spiritual revivals at campmeeting this summer.  Keep that fire burning for God.

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