As reliable as the change in seasons: Camp meeting tradition continues to thrive
By GLENN HANNIGAN
They no longer make the journey in sun-baked, dust-covered, horse-drawn wagons. Now, most people drive up in a climate-controlled sedan, truck or SUV.
But the mode of transportation makes little difference. It is the destination, and the life-transforming events that take place there, that keeps people coming back, year after year, decade after decade.
It is summer in Georgia. It is time for camp meeting.
It’s a tradition that’s repeated at historic sites, some almost 200 years old, across north Georgia this time of year. Camp meetings have played an important role in the history of Methodism.
Each summer, since 1837, the faithful make the pilgrimage to the Marietta Campground for a 10-day outdoor revival.
The Holbrook Camp Meeting, off Ga. 20 in north Cherokee County, has not been meeting as long as the one in Marietta. It began in 1838.
Camp meetings have traditionally been a time of repentance, revival and reconnecting with God and neighbors. Generations later, worshippers no longer tie their cows to horse-drawn wagons to make the journey. In many cases, such as in Marietta, the campgrounds are surrounded by upscale neighborhoods and pricey retail centers. And most camp meetings have their own websites.
The Marietta campground is on a heavily wooded lot just down the road from the Big Chicken. The arbor is surrounded by a half circle of cabins, known as “tents,” that range from small buildings with sawdust floors and no bathrooms to air-conditioned cottages with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
Virtually everything surrounding these campgrounds has changed dramatically since their inception.
Yet the message, and the purpose for gathering, remains the same.
Here are a few camp meetings within the North Georgia Conference:
Antioch – July 17-25
The Gainesville camp meeting has set up July 15-17 as move-in dates for tent owners and campers. Opening service at 11 a.m. July 17 features the Rev. Randy Strickland of Antioch UMC. An open house of the new Preacher’s Tent will be held noon-1 p.m. and dedicated at 6:45 p.m.
end_of_the_skype_highlightTop of Form Holbrook – July 15-24
The 173rd session of the Cherokee County tradition will feature the Rev. Sven Mosinger from McKee's UMC in Dawsonville, and Dr. Barry Crocker from Cumming Baptist Church as guest pastors.
Host pastor is Dr. Sam Newman from Macedonia UMC. Song leaders will be Dr. Robert Brown and Denise Brown. Services are 8 p.m. July 15, 11 a.m., 3 and 8 p.m. July 16-23, and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. July 24. Holbrook Campground is at 2415 Holbrook Campground Rd., one mile off Hwy. 20 between Cumming and Canton. www.holbrookcampmeeting.com
Lumpkin – July 25-31
Marietta- July 15-24
Guest ministers for this 174th
year will be the reverends John Moeller, Jim Perry and Brian Germano. A free special Celebration Event will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 16 featuring slow-cooked barbecue, grilled chicken and hot dogs, carnival games, moonwalks, inflatables, sno-cones, sand art and cotton candy. A watermelon-cutting will take place after the 7:30 p.m. service that day. www.mariettacampmeeting.com
Pine Log – July 24-31
The campground is part of the Pine Log UMC campus at 3497 Pine Log Road, Rydal.
Poplar Springs – July 22-31
The Rev. Don Nestor, pastor of the Canon Charge, is host pastor. A memorial service will begin at 7 p.m. July 22, and a gospel singing is set for 7 p.m. July 23. District Superintendent Gary Whetstone will speak at the 11 a.m. service July 24. The Rev. Scott Newton Smith of Knoxville, Tenn., will preach at 7 p.m. each evening. Local pastors will address the 11 a.m. services.
The campground is in Canon at 826 New Franklin Church Rd., on GA 327 near Carnesville. According to a historical marker, “Camp meetings have been held here since 1832, except four years during the War Between The States.”