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The 223rd camp meeting begins next week
Carswell and Camilla Z. Shearouse
Carswell Shearouse Sr. and Camilla Zipperer Shearouse are shown all dressed up to attend camp meeting in the early 1900s. - photo by Photo provided

Since 1790, folks have gathered annually for Methodist Camp Meeting. They met on various sites arriving for worship at the present Tabernacle site somewhere between 1905 and 1910.

The previous location in what is now downtown Springfield was needed for the Brinson Railroad. Mr. Brinson traded the Methodists 16 acres for their 10 acres of land in town, relocating the camp ground to the edge of Springfield on Laurel Street. They rebuilt the tabernacle and tents where families stay for the week. Brinson also supplied lumber.

The tabernacle constructed of hand-hewn pine is the center of activity for the week. On Sunday some of the Methodist churches call off their services and the camp ground becomes their “church” for the day, offering Sunday school classes and worship services for all ages.

Arriving in the fall back in the early days, everything was brought in by horse-drawn wagon. This was a time after harvest when they could leave their homes for that length of time.

From quilts to chairs, chickens, the milk cow and food for the week, everything was moved to the crude wooden shelters known as “tents.” Most “tents” had a center breezeway and a big bedroom on each side, one for the men and one for the women. Multiple related families share each “tent.” In later years, the time of camp meeting was moved to summer ahead of the beginning of school. As school began earlier each year, mid-July was chosen for the annual event.

Not as many people “tent” all week as in bygone years, but you will still find several extended families continuing this tradition. The tents have been upgraded over the years. There is a dining hall and youth tent at the camp ground.

Everyone is welcome to attend the series of services beginning Friday night July 19 at 7:30 p.m. Services for Saturday are 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. On Sunday morning, Sunday school starts at 10 a.m. with worship at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. A special musical program begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday featuring the Pace Brothers.

Monday through Wednesday services are held at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. There are meals by reservation and youth camp. Contact Chance Ward at 667-4903 for camp registration and Stella Seckinger to arrange for meals at 657-4050. Guest preacher for the week is Dr. Laudis H. “Rick” Lanford. Song leader is Angie Carr, with Ralph Long serving as camp meeting pianist. For more information, contact Jason Hinely, chairman of the Camp Ground Trustees, at 754-1459. Visit the Web site

A week of worship for 223 years is certainly a blessed tradition in this county. The Methodists from all the churches throughout the county who take part in camp meeting invite you to join them for worship and fellowship.

This was compiled by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at