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Remembering Camp meeting
Echoes Exley Kitchen
The Exley tent kitchen after electricity became available. - photo by Photo provided

The 218th Annual United Methodist Camp Meeting will begin on July 18 and end on July 23. Daily services will be held at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.  This is in sharp contrast to years ago. More modern facilities are now available at the camp ground just south of Springfield on Laurel Street.

In the beginning at the Old Camp Ground off Sister’s Ferry Road and later the Camp Ground in Springfield, the families packed up their wagon for a week with furniture, mattresses and food including live chickens for eggs and frying. They camped in the fall in October until sometime after the Camp Ground relocated to the present site when the Brinson Railroad took the Springfield city site. These photos of the Exley tent show the 1950s tent and separate kitchen. Cathy (Rahn) Heidt recalls sleeping in the tent, men on one side of the dining area and women on the other. Mattresses were put up on a platform side to side for the entire length of the wall, “sort of like a big pajama party” sleeping next to each other.  

Looking at the Oct. 9, 1914 edition of The Springfield Herald, the Camp Meeting was a huge success. All tents were filled to overflowing. “It has been closely estimated that few, if any, less than 6,000 were on the grounds on Sunday. They came from all over Effingham and surrounding areas. Each train had several extra coaches well filled with those from north and south of Springfield and quite a few automobiles were from Sylvania, Savannah and other places. Only about half could get under the tabernacle on Sunday, so a stand was set up under the trees and other preachers held a second service outside in the morning and the evening. The singing under the direction of Rev. M. A. Shaw was excellent and the efforts to arouse religious enthusiasm were not in vain.” The great revival brought many new members to the altar.  

The 1915 edition of The Springfield Herald announces the opening of Camp Meeting in October with the “new metal roof” on the tabernacle. Five preachers from the surrounding area were to preach from Waynesboro, Sylvania and Savannah. Other ministers would be attending at different times and would help with preaching.

Join the Methodists for Camp Meeting beginning July 18. You will be made to feel welcome and will hear Rev. Jim Rush at the pulpit. Presiding Superintendent Rev. Marshall Howell will be on hand with song leader Tommy Webster of Springfield Methodist leading the singing.

Youth and children’s camps are available and information can be obtained by contacting Rev. Chance Ward or Ty LaValley at 754-6646.

Effingham County Methodists have a time honored tradition and look forward to another successful series of services and fellowship.  

This article was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society.  If you have photos, questions or info to share call her at 754-6681 or email: