bb-inline-gilead1.jpgCARNATION, Wash.—Camp Gilead celebrated its 60th anniversary on Memorial Day with more than 550 people, including many local pastors, gathering to celebrate God’s handiwork over the years with activities, a picnic, and a program.

Speakers included Bob Martin, a former Gilead program director; Polly Strong, a former program director and a Baptist Mid Missions missionary to Central African Republic; Tom Ruhlman, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Shoreline, Washington; Jonathan Counts of Eastgate Bible Fellowship; Grady Kringen, Gilead board chairman and pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Snohomish, Washington; and Dan Johnson, son of the camp’s founder, Pastor Forrest Johnson. Other visitors included Dan’s wife, Sue, Norm and Jan (Johnson) Jenison, and several more Johnson family members spanning four generations.

bb-inline-gilead2.jpgJohnson, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church (then in Seattle), had a vision for a Christian camp where children from the city could experience farm life and meet Jesus Christ. In 1948, Elma Jenkins Faul offered Tabernacle 26 acres of farmland along the Snoqualmie River. The church eagerly accepted the gift, and its people started coming out every Saturday to clear land and construct buildings. In 1951, Gilead’s summer camping program began, offering camps for junior, junior high, and high school campers. Thousands of campers have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior through Gilead’s ministry.

Today Gilead is no longer operated by Tabernacle Baptist alone, but by a group of 29 churches known as the Gilead Baptist Camp Association. According to Gilead’s program director Kimberly Mallory, the Association has one goal: “to reach campers and families for Christ.”

Guests at the anniversary gathering agreed that although buildings and activities have changed since the camp’s beginnings, one thing hasn’t: the camp’s mission. Gilead’s current camp director, Jack Moyer, now in his 27th year of ministry, said, “Camp Gilead is about giving campers the best week of their lives—both in the recreational aspect and in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with them.”