Harmony Goes a Long Way

Harmony Goes a Long Way

by John H. Camenga   

SDB Conference 2000 – “Live in Harmony with One Another”

West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, W.Va.


Years before I was selected as President, I had thought about “The Upward Way” as a Conference theme, using the Fannie Crosby hymn “Higher Ground” as the theme song. In my prayer times asking God to guide in the choice of a theme, I became convicted that another emphasis was required.

I was directed to “Live in Harmony with One Another” from 1 Peter 3:8. I sought to include people who held many points of view on Conference matters as speakers, committee chairs and Bible study leaders.

Harmony proved to be an important emphasis. In the period right after my term, Conference was challenged to deal with some difficult doctrinal issues with a few member churches. I believe God guided me to select the theme as I asked Him in prayer what would be needed for our Conference and our churches—not just for the one year, but moving forward.

One of my greatest challenges during that Presidential term was setting aside my personal preferences so God could work through me. It was a wonderful start to the Conference to have the choir of my home church, Daytona Beach, sing two numbers in dramatically different styles. It was also special to receive a “yes” from each person asked to participate in Conference duties.

When I was installed at the 1999 session in Holland, Mich., my mother was undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer. She went through the Thursday treatment, drove to the airport with Dad and flew from Florida to Michigan.

At the Sabbath night session, Dad presented me with a gavel that was his last wood-turning effort. As Conference ended, the folks flew back to Florida on Sunday and Mother drove herself to the Monday morning treatment. (I wonder if I will be that tough at 90.)

Brothers Justin and David were there not only for the Conference sessions but during the year. I cannot imagine a higher level of support than the family gave.

The “kids” were moving into independence in 2000. The girls made sure their families were there through the challenges of the year. Both sons (Andrew and JohnMark) were married in the weeks before Conference and were also active and involved in the sessions.

Linda served as “first lady” in spite of heart bypass surgery with significant complications. My parents and mother-in-law all traveled with us to the Conference sessions. Brothers-in-law Darwin and Robert Van Horn served behind the scenes. Darwin had the “challenging” duty of keeping the programs on schedule and holding the stopwatch on presentations.

The prayer and practical support of my family was consistent and a source of inspiration.

At the end of the week, when I passed the gavel to President-Elect Clayton Pinder, there was relief! (I kept the gavel Dad made. The new president got a new gavel.)

As far as my hopes or concerns for our future, Conference Historian Al Rogers used to say that when SDBs were restless, they “tinkered with the machinery.” I pray that we do not think that past, present or future changes to structure will “solve our problems” as a Conference.

I would suggest more time in prayer and greater efforts to “Live in Harmony with one another” as effective tools to ensure future effectiveness on all levels of our shared ministry.

Clip to Evernote