Gimme that old-time religion
After 137 years, a flock of summer visitors remains faithful to rustic Methodist campground
The 137th Campmeeting at South Union United Methodist Campground was held July 24 - 29, 2009. The preacher was Rev. Ron McDougald who serves as Chaplain of Trinity Place Health Center of Columbus. Carol and I served as the song leaders. The pianist was Janees Garey. Among those sharing in the special music this year were; "Still Blessed Trio" of Tupelo, “Alan Sibley and The Magnolia Ramblers” of Ackerman, Sam Griffin of Ackerman, and “The Wells Brothers Quartet” of Noxapater. Rev. Bryan Carrubba is the pastor of South Union United Methodist Church.
Listen to the promotional spot that aired on WFCA Christian radio station to promote Campmeeting.
As children in the 1950’s, Carol and I stayed in a (wooden) tent with our grandparents. They started coming here before the grounds had electricity and flaming pine knots helped to light the evening sky. They told us stories about horse and buggy days at campmeeting, unloading their vegetables, and slaughtering chickens for Sunday dinner. Carol and I well remember campmeeting days at South Union when we had to haul the ample supply of flowing pure water from the spring and the dirt floors under the open Tabernacle and in the tents were covered with sawdust. This year, we enjoyed a more modern stay in a motor home with air conditioning.
Carol and I return to South Union Campmeeting to seek God and see lives being changed. No, God does not need tents, tabernacles, sawdust, benches, or campgrounds to meet with us. But when we choose to set aside a special time to get away from the normal routine to seek God and to hear from Him, He meets with us like at no other time. Our faith is met with God’s faithfulness to, minister to us, drawing us ever closer to Him.
For us, campmeeting takes us back to a simpler time; just good old-fashioned worship of God under the open arbor with hymns like, “I’m Dwelling in Beulah Land,” “Revive Us Again” and “Love Lifted Me.” Campmeeting affords us the opportunity to worship and to teach our children (and now our grandchildren) to worship in the same place our ancestors did, in the same way. We can go back to a single, uncomplicated time and place and always know that God is with us and He loves us.
My late grandfather Casey T. Smith was saved at South Union when he was 9 years old. The year was 1905. He attended school at South Union and helped to build the current Tabernacle in 1914. My grandfather explained that campmeeting at South Union was a very special event because people didn't travel much in those days and it provided a unique opportunity for fellowship. He recalled that before ice was available that they would go together and kill a beef and what was left over would be salted heavily and put into a hole in the ground behind the wooden tent. After ice was available he said they had an underground box where they would place a 50 pound block of ice. He recalled that a one-horse wagon would deliver 100 pound blocks of ice from Ackerman to South Union at 15 cents a pound. He remembered the special times when they would make home made ice cream.
Today many people believe the usefulness of the campmeeting has passed. They consider it an old mode of operation that needs to be put to sleep. We strongly disagree. Instead of allowing the campmeeting to die we should renew our efforts to bring it to new life. Far from being a dried relic of the past, campmeetings still provide the opportunity for many people to hear the message of Salvation and Scriptural Holiness.
As Carol and I grow in years, we become more convinced that our parents and grandparents gave us life's greatest treasure; a Christian home. Now, our prayer and passion is that we will be found trustworthy of offering that advantage to our children and grandchildren.
We believe that the God of the Scripture, the God who displayed His glory in the great camp meetings of the past, is the same God we worship today. He has not changed. He is no less able to turn the heart of a nation today than He was 100 years ago! All the social and political evils that threaten to be the undoing of our world today are no match for our God. He is willing – yes, eager – to manifest Himself and His saving grace to this lost, prodigal nation.
Visit www.SouthUnionCampmeeting.org for photos and videos of this year’s campmeeting and historical information. We think you’ll especially enjoy the video of a trip to the spring with the children. Join us next year for campmeeting which always begins on Friday before the fourth Sunday in July and closes the following Wednesday night.