Some say time seems to stand still on the hallowed grounds of Lumpkin Campground during the weeklong spiritual revival and celebration known as campmeeting.
"There's nothing like it in the world. I don't even want to think about it if I couldn't come to campmeeting," said Judy Matheson, at last year's event.
The 186-year tradition at Lumpkin Campground, on Lumpkin Campground Road, across from Bethel United Methodist Church, 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 ministers are the Rev. Dr. Doug Thrasher and the Rev. Pete Martin. Reggie Stowers 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.
Mardie Townley has attended campmeeting her entire life, but it wasn't until nine years ago that she accepted Jesus into her life beneath the campground's historic arbor.
During the sermon, a local Baptist preacher had told the congregation to search their hearts for the truth they had been saved.
As several people stood and walked toward the front of the wooden arbor where services are held each night of campmeeting, Townley couldn't find that truth in her heart.
"I couldn't stand there and say that I knew I was going to heaven if I died. I went up and prayed, and that night I was saved," she said
Services will be held at 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. daily, until Sunday when services are 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.