A Peculiar Gathering

The family at Swallow Falls State Park Family unity seems to be in danger of extinction in American culture. Almost everywhere you look older siblings are tearing down their younger brothers and sisters. Leaving home is the escape that young people long for. Obviously, the reason that family discord is so wide spread is because the root causes for it are accepted as normal in our culture. The only way to avoid normal problems is to avoid the normal causes. The result is raising a family in a very abnormal way. My words can not express how grateful I am that my parents had the gumption to do what seemed radical. The farther that “normal” degenerates, the more radical simple common sense goodness appears to be. But the fruit of their efforts and the efforts of other faithful parents glowed in an awesome way last weekend as we gathered together with a number of other “out-of-the-ordinary” families in joyous, holy, unified fellowship.

040608_1711On Sunday, April 6, eight families (Butlers, Campbells, Hynes, Mattiches, Staddons, Thrashes, Voells, and Wilkes) gathered together at Cacapon State Park, WV, despite chilly, drizzly weather. Soon a cheerful fire was cracking in the cozy pavilion and the peaceful melody of hymns echoed out through the trees. Following came the secret to our fellowship: the Word of Truth. We heard fresh insights into the Biblical significance of hope and what it means to us. No one cared about the amount of time that passed as we fed on the green pastures of God’s holy, unchanging Word. Afterwards we openly confessed our sins to God and one another in prayer and proceeded to renew our covenant together inDad talks with Mr. Butler the blood of Christ (Mark 14:24).  Each of the men aged 13 and older gathered and shared the parts of the message that were most meaningful as well as additional insights and admonitions. Meanwhile, the ladies had prepared a scrumptious feast around which we got to know new friends.

A much-anticipated highlight of our time was a new kind of sport:

“Discipleship Soccer”! Mr. Wilkes had emphasized the importance of a whole new priority for the game: making sure that new or younger players were given important roles and allowed to develop their skill. It left plenty of room for some hot contesting while the power of older players was under control. True teamwork resulted, ego was left behind, and in the excitement of helping new players score, the actual ending score became insignificant (Philippians 2:3-4).

Mom and Mrs. Voell in conversation At the conclusion of our time we gathered together to share a few of the amazing things that God had done over the last few months. Especially inspiring were the stories of those who had been drawn to Christ and had experienced the transformation of salvation and the freedom of obedience (Romans 6:16-18).

As we parted ways there was a sorrow we all felt. At the same time our hearts overflowed with gratefulness to our God for what He had allowed us to participate in. It was as if our family had quadrupled in size and the expectation of our next reunion ignited a flame of hope. “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” 1 Thessalonians 2:19. God be with you till we meet again! If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” Phil. 2:1-2.


  1. Donald April 8, 2008 at 2:57 am #

    I appreciate that Michael!

  2. Tim Hynes April 8, 2008 at 6:35 am #

    Hello Staddons,
    Very good post on the gathering at Cacapon. Thank you for posting this – it encourages me do a post also. 🙂

    The fellowship with everyone was very encouraging and uplifting. The teaching from God’s Word on Hope was also very good. Thank you Mr. Staddon!

    I wanted to note that the Thrashes also have a website: http://thrashfamily.net/

  3. Robert April 8, 2008 at 7:24 am #

    Tim, thanks for the comment! It was great to see you again at Cacapon. I’ll look forward to seeing some of your pictures.

    Thanks also for the link to the Thrashes web site! I added it to the post.

  4. Ana Marie Ort April 8, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Sounds like it was a special time for all who attended! Praise God for His abundant grace in strengthening certain families to walk the narrow path, for without His mercy there would be no examples or hope for living Godly lives.

  5. Jenny Wilkes April 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    Praise the Lord for His goodness! Michael, what a beautiful summary of that blessed Sunday. God truly was honored that day and I walked away changed, encouraged, uplifted, and inspired to pursue my Lord even more.
    What a wonderful Savior we serve!

  6. James April 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm #

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post up! It expressly expresses how our time was spent. One of the highlights for me was learning how to play discipleship soccer; it was so much more fun helping the younger ones do well instead of focusing on myself doing well. Praise the Lord for allowing the weather to clear up for such an encouraging occasion.

  7. Joshua April 13, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    Even today following our time of worship together, there were accounts given of the encouraging season of fellowship experienced last Sunday. Mr. Staddon’s message on hope continues to inspire us all. Thank you Mr. Staddon for giving a message from your life.

    As Dr. Gothard puts it, “A message prepared in the mind reaches a mind; a message prepared in a life reaches a life.”


  1. The Wilkes Team » Blog Archive » Launched on to Greater Works - April 10, 2008

    […] and an inspection of our new bee hives. The climax of the weekend came Sunday when eight families gathered together at Cacapon (ca-cay-pon ) State Park for a day of Spiritual nourishment and fellowship. A steady drizzle all […]

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