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Laurel Sunday

From Rev. Solomon Keal, School Pastor
July 28, 2020

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we had to cancel Laurel Camp this summer. However, we were able to create a little bit of the Laurel Camp feeling by producing a “Laurel Sunday” video for the July 19 Informal Service. Graham Bier recruited 37 musicians from around the world (Pennsylvania, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, California, and South Africa) to participate in virtual bands, playing and singing Laurel Camp favorites. Recently we had to move all of our Laurel Camp supplies back to Bryn Athyn, and so it was providential that I was able to use things like the Laurel candelabra, the Laurel banner, and the Laurel copy of the Word for the video. The Lord’s New Church graciously allowed us to film the service in their outdoor hemlock grove worship area, which helped to give it that “Laurel Camp” feeling of being out in the woods. The theme for this year was “Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly with God” from Micah 6:8. This passage in the Word, and its explanation in the Writings, reminds us that the externals of worship are not as important as the internals. This was part of the inspiration for the origins of both Laurel Camp and Bryn Athyn Church’s Informal Service. The externals of worship can be either formal or informal; they can change and look different on the outside, because it’s what’s on the inside that counts. We know that the internals of worship are a life of love to the Lord and the neighbor. But this Micah 6:8 quote helps to give that life of love a little bit more focus. Expressing love isn’t just about warm fuzzy feelings. It means living a life in which we practice justice, mercy, and humility. Laurel Camp has long been a place where people have found inspiration to live that kind of life. It was a pioneer of the small-group movement, which has since then come down “out of the hills” to become a part of the General Church culture as a whole. My grandfather Jack Rose and his brothers Frank Rose and Don Rose were some of the key founders of this New Church camp. Laurel Camp began back in the early 1970s, and people have continued to gather together in the woods of Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, Pennsylvania to worship together and find spiritual community for the last 50 years! The Word says: “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you.” (Leviticus 25:10) Since we couldn’t go out to Laurel Hill State Park this summer, we are counting this year as our “year of rest.” And next year at Laurel Camp, we will be celebrating the Jubilee, honoring 50 years of Laurel Camp history and community. Visit to learn more about the camp. The Laurel Sunday video is available for viewing at

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