North Georgia's rich camp-meeting tradition continues
Like sweet tea and fresh peaches, summers in Georgia would not be the same without camp meeting. Camp meetings were traditionally a time of repentance, revival and reconnecting with God and neighbors.
Each summer since 1839, the faithful make the pilgrimage to the Holbrook Campground for a 10-day outdoor revival.
It is an oasis of green space in north Cherokee, east of Canton and one mile south of busy Ga. 20 toward Cumming.
More accurately, it is a 40-acre, heavily shaded link to the past.
On the wooded lot, just across the street from Macedonia United Methodist Church, is an open-air arbor where visiting pastors deliver nightly sermons. The arbor is surrounded by a circle of 75 cabins, known as “tents,” that range from small buildings with sawdust floors and no bathrooms to air-conditioned cottages with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.
Children can be seen riding their bikes and scooters on the property while the adults, often several generations of families, relax in rockers and porch swings after a home-cooked meal.
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.
In the early church, there was typically only one preacher, known as a circuit rider, to serve various congregations. For many years at camp meeting the preacher's only compensation was board for himself and his horse. Collections were not taken.
Generations later, worshippers no longer tie their cows to horse-drawn wagons to make the journey to camp meeting. In many cases, the campgrounds are surrounded by upscale neighborhoods and pricey retail centers. And most camp meetings have their own websites.
Virtually everything surrounding these campgrounds has changed dramatically since their inception.
But the message, and the purpose for gathering, remains the same.
Here’s a listing of some camp meetings in North Georgia:
• Holbrook, 2415 Holbrook Campground Rd., has an Alpharetta address but is located in Cherokee County. Services for this 174th year will be July 13-22, with guest ministers Rev. Eddie Herring of Prospect United Methodist in Lawrenceville, and Rev. Mike Orr of First Baptist Church in Chipley, Fl. Dr. Sam Newman is host pastor, and Robert Daniel is song leader. Daily worship is held at 11 a.m., 3 and 8 p.m. www.holbrookcampmeeting.com
• Marietta, 2301 Roswell Rd., Marietta, across from East Cobb United Methodist. July 13-22. A huge celebration event is set for 12:30-10 p.m. July 14 to commemorate the 175th anniversary. Free pork and chicken barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, sides and sno-cones. Demonstrations of life 175 years ago include primitive skills such as stone cooking, arrowhead making, spinning and weaving. Music and inflatables. At 7:30 p.m. July 16, Brad Sherrill will perform The Gospel of John. Guest preachers for the daily services are Dr. Ike Reighard, Dr. Gil Watson, Rev. Charles Sineath and Dr. Jim Lowry. www.mariettacampmeeting.org.
• Salem, 3940 Salem Rd., Covington, was founded in 1828, will convene July 6-13, featuring guest speakers Dr. Winston Worrell, director of World Methodist Evangelism Institute, and Dr. John A. Huffman. www.salemcampmeeting.org.
• Mt. Zion, Vaughn Road in Grifiin. July 8-15 with Malone Dodson and Steve Dodson as guest pastors. Services at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., adult and youth Bible study 9:30 a.m. daily. http://www.gbgm-umc.org/mtzioncampground
• Antioch, established in 1837, July 16-21 on Antioch Campground Road in Gainesville. Guest pastor is Rev. Terry Walton of First United Methodist in Gainesville. July 18 is homemade ice cream night, with watermelon offered on July 20 after services. Directions at www.antiochcampground.org
• Lumpkin, 105 Lumpkin Campground Rd, Dawsonville. Meeting July 23-29 for the 181st year with Methodist pastor Gary Polston and Baptist minister Jimmy Orr. www.lumpkincampground.org.
• Pine Log, part of Pine Log United Methodist Church at 3497 Pine Log Road, Rydal. July 22-29. Dr. Mike Cash is guest pastor, with Dr. Kirk Bozeman as worship leader. http://pinelogumc.com/campmeeting.
• Poplar Springs, 826 New Franklin Church Rd. on GA 327 near Carnesville. Convening July 20-29.