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Reviving faith

Camp meeting draws crowds of more than 500

POSTED: August 10, 2008 5:03 a.m.
Tia Lynn Lecorchick/

Spencer Wright, worship leader at Bethel United Methodist Church in Dawsonville, sings a hymn while revival attendees go up to the altar to pray during the July 25 Lumpkin Campground afternoon service.

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Lumpkin Campground held its annual summer revival last week.

 

The weeklong revival camp meetings are a treasured tradition that dates back 178 years.  

 

“This is an old-fashioned, traditional, camp-style revival,” said James Smith, a guest preacher from the United Methodist Church in Villa Rica.

 

“Everyone should experience this. It’s a major part of Dawsonville’s history,” he said.

 

Some of the night services drew crowds of nearly 500 people.

 

“Not every year is like this. It’s the best turnout we’ve had in a long time,” said Ann McClure Whitmire, who volunteered to drive the golf cart at the revival meetings, so the elderly and disabled could travel to the meeting site.

 

The revival drew people from across the state. First-time visitor, Evelyn O’Kelley from Jefferson made the trip to experience the revival meetings.

 

“I’m a Baptist, but I love this Methodist revival. I will come back again,” she said.

Most of the churches that participated were from Dawson, Forsyth and Lumpkin counties.

 

“It’s a way to bring church families in the area together,” Smith said.

 

The revival meetings featured prayer, singing, music, Bible readings, preaching, personal testimonies and altar calls.

 

Throughout the week, three meetings a day were held, plus morning prayer groups, and other activities for the youth, such as a scavenger hunts, were included.

 

“I only want God’s will to be done in this place,” said David Gravitt, a youth minister from Lebanon United Methodist Church in Hall County.

 

“I want people who do not know Christ, to come to know Him and people who do know Christ, to gain a better understanding of the call He has on their lives,” he added.

 

This year’s revival was a particular milestone for the oldest living attendee, Emily McClure, who has attended every revival meeting for the past 89 years.

 

“Who knows if I’ll live long enough to come to next year’s revival, but I am so proud of the 89 that I have been a part of so far. I love this, I would not miss it for anything,” said McClure.

 

McClure, who will turn 90 in September, said her mother brought her to one of the revival meetings the year she was born and she has been coming ever since. 

 

Out of 178 years of revival meetings, McClure has attended exactly half of the revivals conducted at the campground.

 

While revivals seek to convert newcomers to Christianity, this revival also sought to inspire longtime church members to arrive at a deeper place of faith.

 

“Church people need revival just as much (as newcomers to church). Salvation is one moment in time, becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is a lifelong commitment,” explained Smith.

 

“We hope this revival causes people to increase in faith and recommit themselves. It’s a way to get recharged,” he said.

  

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