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Campmeeting next week
I-Campmeeting pic1
Families get together between services to sit, relax, reminisce and visit. From left, Colby Denard, Thelma Byrd, Debra Byrd Pelfrey, Brittany Anderson and Autry Anderson, held by Anna Byrd. - photo by File photo

Families and friends will gather and time will take a step back and slow down next week at the Lumpkin Campground Campmeeting.

"I like coming because of the fact we all get to spend time together as a family without TV and without any interruptions, just low tech this week," Diane Phillips said. "We are away from everybody's hustle and bustle. Just sit around and rock and just sit around and play dominoes all night."

The 184-year tradition continues Monday with the first service at 7:45 p.m. beneath the open air arbor at the center of the 40-acre grove.

Local Methodists began meeting for summer revival at Lumpkin Campground in 1830 after 40 local men each donated $1 for its purchase.

Later, as Baptists married into those founding families, Methodist and Baptist ministers began sharing the pulpit.

This year's helping ministers are the Rev. Herb Flanders and Rev. Rubin Smith, along with the Rev. Orin Sampson.

Angie Smith will be leading the music.

In the early days, families would pack up their horse drawn, covered wagons with blankets, pots and pans, canned foods, cows for milk, live chickens for fresh eggs and supper, hay for the animals and enough pies and cakes to last a week.

They'd stay for the week in rustic family cabins they called tents, where they met up with family and old friends to pass along stories of faith and rejoice in the spirit.

"We try to carry on the tradition with the grandkids and let them be free and enjoy," Janice Turner said. "Our family tradition is you move in as quickly as you can and play as much as you can before services actually start. Then they still go to the services and enjoy each other and make new friends and carry it on to their kids."

Some things about campmeeting have changed over the years. The campground got electricity in the early 1940s, so the tents have gas stoves, running water and many have air conditioning.

But many of the traditions from years gone by remain unchanged, including one that began before the campground had electricity.

The trunks of the hardwood trees were whitewashed so that members would not run into them as they made their way to the arbor for services.

Even though the campground is well lit, the tradition to gather on Sunday prior to campmeeting to paint the tree trunks continues today.

Services will be held daily the rest of the week, Tuesday through Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. until the final service, which is at 6 p.m. July 27, on Lumpkin Campground Road, across from Bethel United Methodist Church.