Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 11, 1956

Yosemite Meeting

John W. Wilson, San Bernardino, California

The meeting in Yosemite Valley was conducted this year from July 15 to July 29. The elders of the East Bakersfield congregation in Bakersfield, California, made the plans and selected the preachers and teachers for the meeting this year. It is not my purpose to make a report of the meeting, but simply to make a few remarks and observations. I spoke in the meeting on July 16, 17 and 18. Many of my friends have called, written, and spoken to me in person about why I consented to go and have any part in the meeting. It is a well known fact that I have opposed the meetings in the past. My opposition has been to the church going into the recreation business, hotel business, restaurant business and holding meetings of convenience for the brethren. My opposition to all such is still as strong as it has ever been. The statement of the elders who planned this meeting was to the effect that there would be none of the above provided by the church in connection with this meeting. They stated that they had the right to plan a gospel meeting anywhere and select sound men to preach and teach the word of the Lord. With this I can agree. They did make one statement with which I did not agree and wrote them to that effect. The statement was that "the elders would have the oversight of the meeting." Since the oversight of elders is limited by the scriptures to "the flock which is among you," (1 Peter 5:2) no elders can oversee two assemblies in two different locations. Not even for two weeks and three Lord's days. This I wrote to the elders before I went to Yosemite and I taught it publicly while there. It is my conviction that they will correct this matter and will never make such a claim again. They are God fearing men and want nothing for which there is not a scriptural precedent. This statement is in no way meant as a reflection upon the elders, but rather to correct false impressions that might arise regarding my thinking on these matters and to commend the good attitude of the elders when they are corrected by the scriptures.

It has been very doubtful in my mind that a meeting could be held under the circumstances prevailing in Yosemite Valley to any honor and credit to the Cause of Christ. My conviction in this matter was confirmed by my visit this year. I told the brethren while there that I felt that I was nearer a Nudist Camp than I had ever been before and than I wanted to be again. If the people who go there take any clothes with them they do not bother to put them on their bodies. It is my conviction that we could do as well trying to hold a gospel meeting on the bank of any large mixed bathing pool or on the sands of any of our public beaches as in Yosemite. The people are so thick in the Valley until they almost have to ride piggy back and the man or woman wearing clothes is very conspicuous. Only members of the church came to hear me preach and many of them did not attend one preaching service. Almost as many members left to attend to their personal pleasures after the classes as stayed for the preaching. The attitude of many seemed to be "let's get this business of the Lord over with so we can go play." I have never thought it was conducive to the right spirit to attempt to mix play and service to the Lord. My thinking is increased in this matter. My statement to the brethren at Yosemite, and I make it here for all who read this, if the Lord will forgive me for going this time I shall never return to Yosemite Valley to play or to preach. In my mind it is not a fit place for Christians to do either. The dignity and glory of the church of our Lord is far above the plane of the atmosphere of that Valley. It cheapens the gospel, degrades the holy purpose of the church and shames the sweet name of our Lord to drag it down to such a level. It places the church on the same level as the pleasure seeking, worldly minded, and the numerous religious sects who started this business of mixing entertainment and religion. It puts us too much in the light of "aping the sects." It is hard for me to see how Christians can enjoy themselves rubbing elbows literally with so many naked people. If I had gone there when my children were at home and had had them with me I would not have remained even long enough to keep my preaching appointment.

Please do understand that nothing I have said is meant as a reflection upon the elders who planned this meeting. have the very best feeling toward them and believe that thy have learned their lesson along with me. It will be a great surprise to me if they ever plan such as this again. Anyone can make a mistake. But everyone can have the courage to admit it and avoid the same mistake the second time if they will. May the Lord over- rule and may there never be another such meeting in His name in that pleasure resort. Such is my sincere prayer. If some elders who know no better or care so little for the dignity of the church do make such plans next year, it is my prayer that decent-minded brethren will protest it and avoid it.