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‘Closest place to heaven on earth’

Campmeeting kicks off July 19

POSTED: July 14, 2010 4:00 a.m.
File photo/

T.J. Byrd blows on a conch shell to signal the start of service during a past Campmeeting at Lumpkin Campground.

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Dawson County resident Kris Rowan doesn’t need a time machine to travel to a bygone era.

  

At Lumpkin Campground’s annual summer revival, Rowan said she can sit back and enjoy “the simplicity of the past.

  

“It’s a time to sit and reflect. No TV. No phones. I call it my happy place,” said Rowan, a volunteer for the yearly gathering and a member of Bethel United Methodist Church.

  

The church plays host to “Campmeeting” each year, a week-long event featuring daily services, prayer, singing, music, Bible readings, preaching and personal testimonies.

  

Campmeeting’s 180th year kicks off at 7:45 p.m. July 19 at Lumpkin Campground, which is located across the street from Bethel United Methodist Church on Lumpkin Campground Road.

  

Traditions for the event begin July 17 with the “whitewashing” of tree trunks. For 180 years, attendees have painted the bases of trees white so that members would not run into them at night, making their way to the campground’s central building.

  

Rowan said other traditions include having a church member blow on a conch shell to signal the start of every service.

  

“It stemmed from when they didn’t have clocks,” Rowan said.

  

When she’s spending time at campmeeting, having no clocks is just fine with Rowan.

  

“It’s not the hustle and bustle...you just sit on the porch and swing, drink a glass of tea and talk to your neighbors,” she said.

  

Rowan, who has attended campmeeting since childhood, encouraged all to come out to the week-long gathering.

  

“It’s the most amazing place on earth. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve seen it with your own eyes,” she said.

  

“It’s the closest place to heaven on earth.”

  

For more information, call Bethel United Methodist Church at (706) 216-6220.

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