America’s oldest religious campground meeting will return in full-swing today as thousands of faith-filled believers are expected to flock to the Denver area for at least the next 10 days.
The 1,000 seat, open-air arbor at Rock Spring Campground will be the center of activity through August 11, the last day of the 183rd Methodist Camp Meeting.
Reverend Tony Matthews of Denver’s Bethel United Methodist Church is set to serve as the event’s head minister and will preach at least twice throughout the week.
Other local pastors will address the crowd, and choirs along with favorites from the Bluegrass and Gospel music scene will take the stage.
The 40-acre property lies nestled along Campground Road in Denver and contains close to 250 wooden “tents” or housing units constructed in multiple rows around the arbor. In early 2012, the arbor underwent a nearly $100,000 makeover, event officials said.
While tents appear rundown and desolate for most of the year, Campground Trustee Van Barker said in a recent camp meeting press release that the structures remain a hot commodity and have sold for as high as $45,000.
Most tent owners pass them down to younger generations of family, keeping the camp meeting memory alive through the experiences of children and grandchildren.
Over the years, hot, humid temperatures, downpours and mosquito-infested conditions have done little to keep people away from the August event.
Throughout the more than week-long affair, families fellowship and lives are changed through Gospel-centered teaching and worship.
Still others kindle young romances and marry at the site. At 14-years-old, George “Heck” McAlister and Marry Dellinger, both now in their 80s, met at the meeting in 1948 and married a year later on Valentine’s Day, they said.
For more information on the Rock Spring Methodist Camp Meeting or to participate, contact Van Barker at (704) 483-2710 or visitrockspringscampmeeting.com.
The following is a schedule of events:
8/02 – 7 p.m. community singing
8/03 – 7 p.m. “The Big Sing” (The Bledsoes, The Le Beaus, Vintage Quarter & Heritage Quarter)
8/04 – 10 a.m. Sunday school (Butch Ross); 11 a.m. worship (Rev. Tony Matthews); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. Cameron Conover & Bethel UMC choir)
8/05 – 11 a.m. worship (Katherine Sherrell); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. Cameron Conover & Webb’s Chapel UMC choir)
8/06 – 11 a.m. worship (Val Rosenquest); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. Cameron Conover & Salem UMC choir)
8/07 – 11 a.m. worship (TBA); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. Neil Shaw & Lebanon UMC choir)
8/08 – 11 a.m. worship (Dave Hobson); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. William Roberts & Denver UMC choir)
8/09 – 11 a.m. worship (Gary Fulker); 7:30 p.m. worship (Rev. Holly Adams & choir TBA)
8/10 – 7 p.m. Bluegrass Gospel concert (King James 1611 Boys, Black Creek, Gospel Plowboys, Lee Jonas & The Log Cabin Boys)
8/11 – 10 a.m. Sunday school (Butch Ross); 11 a.m. worship (Rev. Tony Matthews); 6 p.m. evening farewell (Rev. Tony Matthews)