When Glenn Clark’s first book, Soul’s Sincere Desire, became a religious bestseller, a group of men at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, asked Glenn Clark to lead an adult Bible class. One Sunday he commented, to the class, that he wished he could be in a place where time and interruptions would not interfere with thoughts of the Kingdom. Such a place where they would not only talk about love and faith and a life of prayer, but would learn how to put these Christian virtues into practice. A place where young and old, rich and poor, could go more deeply into the heart of the Christian message. They began to visualize such a group going “farthest out”, away from their daily distractions while spiritually exploring the length, height, and breadth of God’s Kingdom. From the members of this bible class would come the financial underwriting and prayer support for the very first CFO event.
Glenn believed that men and women should become “Athletes of the Spirit”. By this he meant participating in and experiencing the Fatherhood of God, the Sonship of Jesus, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the power of prayer, the love of God in one another, the co-creativity with God in all facets of our lives, and the total giving of ourselves to the loving and perfect God.
A group from the Bible class began investigating locations for such an event and found an assembly ground in Paynesville, MN on the banks of beautiful Lake Koronis. On Memorial Day of 1930 the Clark family and the Wheaton family, along with their picnic lunches, went to Lake Koronis to investigate the facilities provided. The place seemed right, dates and terms were set, and the first Camp Farthest Out event was scheduled.
Always, it seems, when spiritual “breakthroughs” occur, there are existing worldly conditions which are demanding it. World War I ended in 1918 on terms that many believed would bring an end to war for all times. The decade that followed, known as the “roaring twenties” provided the illusion of such a peace, in North America, by the prosperity brought about in the dramatic advances of business, technology, and science. Such prosperity, for the many, centered only upon their own well-being, resulted in little belief in the need for prayer and the questioning, even in seminaries, of the very existence of our creator God.
At the same time, however, unnoticed by most, there were deep hungers in many who were dissatisfied by the associated social trends of unbridled materialism. Though most were too fearful or inexperienced to “speak out”, a few voices stepped forth. Glenn Clark, best expressed those concerns by his books such as I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes and Souls Sincere Desire, was of those voices. E. Stanley Jones, who was beginning his Christian “Ashrams”, was another. There were others, of course, who appeared as proof that the spirit of God was beginning to stir and getting ready to move within the souls of men.
In October of 1929, the gigantic bubble of false prosperity and materialism, that had so captivated a nation, unexpectedly burst, causing the financial ruin of many with accompanying unemployment and poverty for the rest. This economic disaster changed an era of rampant “speculation” into an era complete “desolation”, for entire nations throughout the world, almost overnight. This time became known as the Great Depression. Camps Farthest Out came into being in such a time as this.
The First Camp
Seventy people gathered at the Lake Koronis facilities in July of 1930. Glenn Clark was the only speaker with leaders for rhythmic movement, art appreciation, and singing personally chosen by Glenn. All of these leaders plus a few campers met each morning for prayer to confirm the pattern for that day. Glenn, in communication with the Lord, directed the flow of each day. As the three week long experience unfolded an atmosphere of love and harmony prevailed. In this prayer-filled environment, there were no discordant voices, no disputes, arguments or voting. CFO continues to provide an event at the Lake Koronis campground. 2015 was the 85th year of CFO’s presence at this facility.
The Subsequent Years
From this group of seventy first-time “campers” came those who saw the need for more of these experiences in places beyond Minnesota. Growing slowly in the first years, there were four (4) camps held in 1939; twenty-two (22) in 1950; forty (4 tu0) in 1960; forty-seven (47) in 1970; sixty-five (65) in 1980; ninety-four (94) in 1990; eighty-two (82) in 2000; and sixty-two (62) in 2010. Today’s CFO events and of those previous, were born out of the heart-desires of the people at the grass roots level, and thus merit the status of the name “living organisms” since they were birthed and live by the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit lives in CFO and CFO’s live where faith, hope, and love abide and ministers; where God is loved with all the heart, all the mind, and all the soul. This is venturing “Farthest Out” to discover the Kingdom of God in today’s world.
Through the world’s history of the times from 1930 to the present, CFO has maintained its relevance to the people who hunger and thirst for knowledge of the Lord and His righteousness. The Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Electronic Revolution have all challenged the faith of many but CFO continues to provide a place: filled with prayer; a Christ-centered, Holy Spirit led Program; and the safe love of Jesus, all helping people discover the Kingdom of God in the midst of “such times as these”! It will always be our collective prayer that CFO continues, through prayer and practice, to always be an effective tool of God as He lovingly pours his love and grace out to a world in great need of such love. We can be encouraged by the words of George Washington Carver when he shared with Glenn Clark that CFO, “… that his spiritual movement would one day transform our nation”. Those active within CFO must know, respect, and honor the wonderful history that fills our past, shapes our present, and fuels our future. What a privilege to serve our Lord through the gift of CFO.
Some comments and facts included herein were taken from “The Saga,” a book by Glenn Harding, one of the first song leaders in this first camp and in many subsequent. These excerpts also appear in the previously noted book “Roots and Fruits.”