Camp Meeting continues after 146 years - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Camp Meeting continues after 146 years

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REIDSVILLE, GA (WTOC) -

Gospel singing filled the air at the Tattnall Campgrounds this week. Hundreds of people spent the week in the rustic cabins that surround the outdoor worship center. Others came here from work for the evening service. The week marked the 146th annual Camp Meeting.

Wednesday night, 200 or so filled the pews to sing, pray, and listen to preaching. Those who didn't get a seat under one of the ceiling fans relied on funeral home fan. It was the kind of old fashioned air conditioning folks have know at camp meeting since it started in 1867.

"Back then, they didn't have all these modern conveniences so it wasn't any different than it was at home," said long-time worshipper Leon Waters. "Folks came here because it was the place to be."

Waters said it was the closest thing people had to a vacation during the Great Depression and other tough times.

Pianist Iva Anne Brannen played for services for the 50th year this week. She remembers the week from childhood.

"You'd bring your mattresses from home and just lay them on the floor. By the time you got it all situated, the week was over and you had to go home. But it was worth it," she recalled.

The rustic cabins, or "tents" as they're called surround the worship center. Some of the wooden structures date back to the early 1900's while others are more modern and include plumbing and air conditioning. The spots have been passed down from generation to generation.

The Methodist founders of the camp set aside the gathering as a week-long revival for worshippers to get away from the distractions of the outside world. Modern leaders said that is even more crucial today.

"It's a time for renewal," explained trustee board member Byron Haire. "It's a great time, but it's also a great time in the Lord."

The week now includes camp activities for teens and chidlren. Some stay the week in dormitories and others visit for the day. The camp remains as popular as ever. Haire said younger generations who've moved away come back home for at least a day or two of camp meeting, to see friends and family.

"I think its about stability and tradition and something you can hold onto in a world that's constantly changing," explained Rev. Jimmy Cason, one of the preachers for the week.

The morning services continue through Sunday and the evening services last until Saturday night. The campground is located off U.S. Hwy. 280 on Tattnall Campground road.

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