Unless you have been in hiding for the last several months, you are very aware that Oklahoma Baptists will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center on Sept. 2-3. On Saturday evening, Sept. 2, attendees will enjoy a Night of Praise featuring some of the bands and worship leaders of recent years. On Sunday evening, Sept. 3, all will celebrate at the Homecoming Service with a Centennial Reunion Choir singing some of the historical favorites of the past. A video history will be presented, and the Word will be preached. These are events that you will not want to miss!
What many people do not realize is that, this week, Indian Falls Creek (IFC) will celebrate its 70th anniversary. This camp has become the largest gathering of Christian Native Americans in the Northern Hemisphere. Each year, approximately 3,000 Native Americans representing more than 20 states and Canada, from 100 or more tribes, come to Falls Creek for this event.
IFC was begun by J. B. Rounds, who was one of the founders of Falls Creek in 1917. After serving on the staff, and later as the executive secretary-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Rounds served the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) as leader of Native American work. In 1947, the first camp met with 333 registered campers.
IFC is a family camp. While churches bring the attendees, the key to IFC is the focus on bringing whole families. Each year the camp is filled with children and youth, along with adults of all ages. Two and three generations attend camp together.
While IFC has its own approach to camp, many of the elements found in any other youth Falls Creek week are found. The emphasis is on teaching the Word of God. Each year, there are many classes in which books of the Bible are taught, as well as doctrinal studies. In recent years, the camp has been used for a time to encourage and train pastors in different areas of emphasis of the convention—Sunday School and Evangelism top that list. IFC is a time to strengthen local church ministry.
A key element of any Falls Creek event is music. One of my favorite times during the night worship services at IFC is the tribal singing. Different tribes are asked to present music in their Native tongues. This is a time of indescribable joy and blessing as attendees listen to our Native American people sing in their own Native language. This year, as a part of the celebration, 70 ladies will sign the Lord’s Prayer while dressed in Native apparel.
At IFC, nothing is more important than the preaching of the Word and the extending of the invitation each evening. The Gospel is preached, and people are invited to come to faith in Christ. Many Native Americans point back to Falls Creek as the place they were saved. Like youth Falls Creek, many of Native American preachers and leaders were called to preach at Falls Creek during one of these services. At IFC, the pastors stand at the altar and minister to their people who are making decisions.
One of my greatest memories of preaching at Falls Creek happened a few years ago when I was given the honor to serve as camp pastor for IFC. I found my heart profoundly moved as I watched our Native people respond to the Gospel. There is nothing on earth like IFC among our Native people. Oklahoma Baptists have invested in this camp across the years and it is a great investment indeed.
Happy 70th, Indian Falls Creek!