Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country? |

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country? |

Our democratic republic is rapidly becoming an endangered species due to several factors, not least of which is a non-voting citizenry that should be required by law of citizenship. . .

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Show-n-Tell Faith

 “Show yourself an example of those who believe,“ Paul told Timothy  (I Timothy 4:12, NASV). Elsewhere, he instructed believers to “observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us,” (Phil. 3:17 NASV). Paul gave Timothy sound instruction in the art of showing and telling, and his message was “Walk the walk before you talk the talk!” We need to practice what we preach before we attempt to share our proclamation.

John Greenleaf Whittier saw show-n-tell faith in John Woolman the Quaker Christian; thus, he introduced him as “a true life” that is both an “interpreter and proof of the gospel.” Example does more to establish “truth in the hearts of men” concluded Whittier, “than all the ‘Evidences’ and ‘Bodies of Divinity’ which have perplexed the world with more doubts than they solved.“   

One single picture can reveal ten-thousand words, but that places heavy responsibility where it most needs to be--on living the life. Personal examples provide powerful forces for good. On the other hand, half-hearted pursuit of life may reflect a lack of discipline that allows toleration of horrendous evil. John Woolman consequently looked for a sure way to challenge the incredible evil of his world. Believing  that showing by example would prove more effective than giving declaration, Woolman challenged his world with his  best behavior and used words only when necessary.

Woolman frequently hired out to people, contracting to write documents for them. In doing so, he worked hard at personally modelling a true faith. In spite of his being a Quaker and a strong Abolitionist, Woolman agreed on one occasion to write a Bill of Sale that would bind a Negro woman to the man that waited to purchase her.

When it came time for him to write the document, he discovered  that the request was too sudden and that he felt quite uneasy about it. He consequently wrote in his diary, “I was so afflicted in my mind, that I said before my master and the Friend that I believed slave keeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion.” Upon reflecting further, he concluded, “I thought I should have been clearer if I had desired to be excused from it, as a thing against my conscience; for such it was.”

The seriousness of global conflict today is such that only when we take our biblical beliefs seriously enough to model them in word, thought, and deed will we have any chance whatsoever of changing our culture. We live in a time when people challenge everything and believe nothing. If we want people to take us seriously and follow our faith, we must be extremely sensitive to the small issues that spoil the vine while we struggle valiantly in making the right choices in our larger issues (Song of Sol. 2:15).

               1 The Journal of John Woolman.   (Philadelphia:  Friends Book Store, 1871), p. 44.   
               2 Woolman, p. 65.

From Warner's World. 
we are

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Some Historical Tidbits

The following chapter is taken from a pamphlet entitled Our Camp Meeting Heritage. Chapter two begins in Grand Junction, MI in 1908, followed by other historical tidbits. Many of the names and places are well known to this blogger. The scene pictured at left comes from Grand Junction 1939 and is a scene from the life of E. E. Byrum, a service attended by this blogger as a child.


     “Ten Days at Grand Junction” in 1908,was reported by lay-member, Mrs. Mary (McCormick) Rumbaugh, at the request of the editor of the Decatur, MI. Republican . (Names in parenthesis were inserted by this writer; otherwise it is recorded as written and without editing.)


At the request of our editor we will write about the Saints campmeeting and how it is conducted. We will try to give you some idea of how they work and what their plans are.

In the first place the Saints take only the bible for their guide, and while God lives we don’t need anything else. It alone will lead men from earth to heaven: no man made conferences, no class book, not even the scratch of a pen. By the way, you don’t have to join anything to get to heaven.

A company of us attended the Grand Junction campmeeting. It is 28 miles from here. It was a ten days’ meeting with the best of order, no disturbances at all.

There is a tabernacle which holds about 600 people. The Saints buildings on the grounds on which the people are tented are all of lumber. There were only two cloth tents on the grounds. Mr.Palmer’s (A. B. Palmer) and our own.

The first two nights terrible wind storms came upon us. The roar and rumble of thunder and flash after flash of lightning made it frightful. The first night was the worst. Every little while it seemed as though our tent would be torn from its fastenings and lifted into mid-air. It was at the lonely midnight hour and the sharp flashes of lightning followed by the inky blackness made the bravest of us shudder. Mr. Rumbaugh leaped out of the bed, grabbed the ridge pole and above the din of the thunder he sang “Whiter than Snow.”

But just at that time I was not thinking much about snow, we were having plenty of rain. I was afraid we would surely have to part with our tent for the wind was blowing a gale. I got down to the ropes and pole below and hung unto the tent with all my might.

For an hour we held our frail residence to the ground by main strength until the wind and rain finally subsided. We did have our hands full to keep our tent with us. Mrs. Simmons (Decatur pastor’s wife) and others who had buildings to live in came in the next morning to see if we were alive. They said they thought of us and got up and came down stairs, for the wind was so great that it shook the buildings.

Well, the next night the rain and wind came onto us again, but we all escaped without much trouble this time.

There were 23 preachers at the camp-meeting and we did not pick out any one of them to take the pulpit or to preach. They all sat in the congregation. The Saints all sang the songs of Zion and then prayed and then sang again, and some one would preach and some-times another.

When one would start out to deliver his message there was no end to it. Seemed as though it were like the days of old. In those days they had rolls and they’d keep unrolling and it seemed as though there were no place to stop. They’d read and study the bible, but a Saint never was known to have written sermons. They go far beyond that. They all go to head quarters and get a hearing from their heavenly father. The bible says “Open your mouth wide and I’ll fill it.” Well, that’s the way the Saints all do.

I have seen a poor preacher stand behind his pulpit before a crowded house and a wind storm would come along and, lo and behold, the man’s written sermon was scattered all about. Therefore he lost tract of the thought he had written down. Sad state of things. It would have been better for him if he had been a man of God.

The meetings began every morning at six o’clock. At nine Young People’s meeting was held in the grove nearby, also Children’s meeting by the same time in a tent, led by Miss. Jessie Osborn of Hamilton, assisted by others. Preaching began at 10:30 and lasted till noon, then after service dinner, and preaching at two and at seven.

Two boy preachers were there, one was twenty-one and the other seventeen. Their father was a wonderful preacher. When he would preach he would hold crowds for hours at a time. He was a poor drunken wreck, soul and body. He tried to be a man but failed many times. He said, “I was a traitor doomed to fire, yet my injured Creator has snatched me from the flames by the costly sacrifice of his own dear son.” He finally changed masters and be-came the child of a King. His name is W. (Willis) Brown and his home is Hedrick, Iowa.

His two sons (Charley and Anderson) did a great deal of preaching. I never did hear such preaching from boys. The words came out of their mouths so fast it was something like Niagara Falls. They held the people’s strict attention. There were a number of other preachers who helped to roll the old chariot along.

About forty were baptized: not sprinkled but put under water--by the way there is a lake (Lester) near camp.

We had a fine boarding house. The tables were set and all were welcome three times a day. They had three long tables all filled, also a small box called “free will offering” on each table. People were welcome to put something into the box to help set the table, but all were welcome to eat if they had nothing.

After the meeting closed, Mr. and Mrs. Wraight took us to their lovely home in Bloomingdale, nine miles distance, where we spent many pleasant hours. By the way, we did enjoy the shortcake she made. It was fine. He took us to the depot, about two miles from his home, and we got there just in time to catch our train. We stopped at Kalamazoo and were very kindly received at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lowell. A fine dinner and then we took the three o’clock train for home.

After the camp meeting a few meetings were held here at the Saints’ chapel. Mrs. Jane (Williams), who was on her way to Virginia and then to the sunny south, her native land, was here. She with some others came from the campmeeting. There were two other Saint preachers here, one from Covert, Mich., by the name of Chapen, the other a black man by name of Ritcherdon. His home is in Reform, Alabama. He has been a slave, and Mrs. Jane’s mother was also a slave.

By the way, speaking of this woman’s going to Virginia reminds me that my father was raised in that place and born in Kentucky, and at the age of 27, married in Plainwell, Mich., at the home of our mother and came here and settled for life.

They came here when there was no depot and no railroad and only a few shanties on the stage of action. Seven of us children were born here and Decatur is the only place we ever lived. It is near and dear to us. Although we have traveled far and wide. this is the dearest spot to me.

Father was the first stone mason here. He was a cooper, too, and also owned a brick kiln on the Congdon farm, a mile north of the village.

But my husband says, “you are off from your subject, better commence where you left off.” Well, where did we leave off? The colored man thinks of buying here. He don’t like the south. He says the rest of his people would leave if they had the money. At his home in Reform, Alabama, the white men whipped a white man for teaching the colored children and gave him a certain length of time to leave town.

In a town called Hartsell, Alabama, were a company of white Saints and black Saints, but they held meetings at different chapels. The white people of the world would not let them meet together. One night a colored preacher stepped into the pulpit at the white Saints’ meeting and began to preach, and outside white people of that town came there armed with guns and began to fire into the chapel. The Saints all ran and made their escape the best way they could, and all this commotion because the black man wanted to preach to the whites.

Methinks the poor white people of the south won’t have much time to devote to killing the black people when this old world is on fire. They will have their hands full attending to their own business.

By the way, when we were down in the sunny south last winter we were afraid to speak to the colored people: we did not know how soon some white man would shoot us down. We had to be careful and watch.
     --Mr. U. R. and Mary Mc. Rumbaugh


This second story showed up in the files of the Decatur, MI. “Republican” from the year 1932, regarding “THE SAINTS CAMP MEETING held at Grand Junction last summer.

At that time Harry and Thelma Foster were living in South Haven, MI., after coming to America from England to be associated with their native American friend, minister Edward Ronk, then of Detroit.

When Lyle Warner secured the services of Brother Ronk, for the South Haven congregation, Harry and Thelma eventually followed from Detroit. The Ronks’ served only a couple of years (1930-31), which left Harry and Thelma staying on with Lyle and Ruth Warner as Interim pastors for a couple of months following Ronk’s resignation and departure (Life on Broadway/ Reformation Publishers/2002).

The lyrics that follow were composed by Harry Foster who served as the Song Leader for the camp meeting that year, as reported to the Decatur, MI. Republican by Mrs. Mary Bernath at the request of the local editor.

Both of these reports were photocopied from the Decatur newspaper files by Susan Stace and shared with me because of our mutual involvement  over several years at Warner Camp (and camp meetings)--once called The Saints Camp Meeting.  

Harry’s composition was introduced and sung by the congregation on the departing day of camp meeting. According to that reporter, Mrs. Mary Bernath went to the Saints’ camp meeting that was held at Grand Junction last August.

The Church of God, which is the same organization, owns a big farm with woods on it and have held camp meetings there for many years.

Besides Mrs. Bernath many other Decatur people went, so many that she could not give us the list, but will next year. Some went for a day or so and some stayed and camped right through. The meetings lasted ten days.

The campers camped in tents and some occupied the cottages and two dormitories. The church furnished public cook stoves out of doors.

Rev. T. Harry Foster was the song leader and a wonderful man. He composed a song entitled, “Salvation is for All,” and it was sung there the last day. The men named in the song were all preachers who had taken part in the meeting.

Mrs. Bernath got a copy of the song and here it is:

I have a gospel message that I want to sing to you,
It is about salvation, for the Gentile and the Jew,
It is for every nation, yes, for all and not a    few.
Salvation is for all.

Listen, hear the invitation,
Jesus offers you salvation,
Then, you’ll be a new creation,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Chinese, who must walk on little feet,
Salvation for the Danish whose good butter is a treat;
And there’s that man from Italy, Joe Cirone’s hard to beat,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Hebrew man, much laughter does he bring,
We won’t forget the Colored man, who makes his banjo ring,
And when they get to heaven they will both join in and sing,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the little man, whom many call the Jap,
And there’s that man from Germany, whose name is Martin Raab,
And there’s that portly Irishman, O. L. Yerty is his tab,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Russian under Communistic rule,
And there’s the Norway children who skate on the ice to school,
Salvation for the Mexican who loves  to drink white mule,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Belgian, though there are but just a few,
And there’s our friend from India, C. L. Bleiler, is here too,
And there’s the Gypsy people who would steal a hen or two.
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Scotchman, Earl Martin is his name,
And too, his fellow countryman, A. F. Gray, D. D. he claims,
And they are both from Anderson, so let’s   join in and sing,
Salvation is for all.

Salvation for the Spaniard, who is branded with tatoo,
Salvation for the Yankee, and Wayne Cross, you all know too,
And there’s that peculiar Hollander, Dad Hartman, is true blue,
Salvation is for all.

Now, if my friends, you find you’re not included in this song,
Just put your nationality in the “Whosoever” throng,
Just give yourself to Jesus, then to Him you will belong,
Salvation is for all.

These last two verses were written by one of Mrs. Bernath’s Decatur friends:

This verse is finely written, but there’s this I wish to say,
Salvation’s freely given to choir leaders every day,
And Reverend Harry Foster gets his share along the way,
Salvation is for all.

When Reverend Foster leads us in the morning hymns     divine,
The air resounds with happy strains of music so sublime,
The clouds break from the heavenly sphere and lo, the sun doth shine,
Salvation is for all.

         1    William G. Schell, “We Have a Hope.” (Anderson: Warner Press, Inc., 1989), p. 727.

From Warner's World, 
I am

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Camp Meeting Movement

The Church of God with general agencies in Anderson, Indiana is in transition, which is not a bad place to be in this changing time. As the Church prepares to Convene this in a second meeting in Oklahoma City, a large segment from the heartland will also meet under the aegis of The Pastor’s Fellowship in Winchester, KY in early May.

Although we may wonder where we are headed, we have a pretty good idea where we have been, but may never be again. We began under the anointing of our Patron Saint, D. S. Warner, we were a camp meeting movement that came out of the early camp meetings of Wesleyan Methodism and the National Holiness Association. Following is the first chapter of a pamphlet I published via Reformation Publishers, copyrighted in 2005.

This will make a lengthy blog but we’ll try it, putting it online simply to make it convenient to readers who would never find it otherwise.


The Church of God, Anderson came into existence out of the agonies and ecstasies of the Camp Meeting Movement. That social phenomenon among America’s early pioneers  spread so rapidly that by 1805 Francis Asbury called the summertime meetings “Methodism’s harvest time.’

Asbury vigorously encouraged his Methodist brothers and sisters to open six hundred camp meetings by 1810.” (Wallace Thornton, Radical Righteousness Personal Ethics and The Development of the Holiness Movement/Schmul/1998/39).

Shortly after the death of D. S. Warner, W. T. Carter, self-proclaimed pioneer evangelist from Missouri, returned home to St. James for a short visit at the place of his birth. Passing through St. Louis for a stopover with his parents, Carter then pushed on to Chicago, intent on crossing Lake Michigan by means of a lake steamer.

Carter crossed Lake Michigan on a passenger ship early in June 1896, reportedly crossing “Lake Michigan to South Haven, where we met with Bro. H. M. Riggle for the first time.” He preached in the home of Bro. S. Michael’s that day; “then we all went to Grand Junction together, to enjoy the Camp Meeting” (Special Incidents In Pioneer Evangelism/RP Reprint 2000/52).

We cannot understand the Church of God movement adequately without first developing some small understanding of revivalism and the camp meeting movement on the early American frontier, for that is who we are and where our spiritual genes come from.

The Church of God as we know it today was conceived in the womb of the camp meeting movement. It evolved out of a cluster of Christian ministries both Protestant (pro-testant) in nature, and radical (Evangelical) in purpose.

Our pioneers perceived reformation and restoration to be proper biblical perspectives of holiness and unity within the true body of  Christ. 

When Church of God people went to camp meeting, they simply did what many of their friends and neighbors did. There was no “final four,” and no “March Madness.” There were no Sports Spectaculars and no TV Media to titillate curious senses and immerse one’s preoccupation with mindless entertainment.

Persuasive preachers not only redirected the misdirected toward more wholesome life-styles, but they provided the popular pulp (the pop culture and entertainment) for ordinary folks.

Michigan historian, Gale Hetrick, describes an out-of-the-way event that significantly influenced the Church of God Saints at Bangor, MI. and put a premium on camp meetings in the Church of God for the following century:
          “One day in June 1891, D. S. Warner,
            N. H. Byrum and Warner’s son, Sidney
            walked up a winding path toward Les-
            ter Lake, 1 1/2 miles north of the vill-
            age. Sidney himself told me about that
            day and Byrum recorded it. Although
            the area had been burned, the trees on
            the high ground were untouched.
            There were maples, beech, and a few
            hemlock and pine. The birds were warb-
            ling and Warner said, ‘Let’s stop and en-
            joy this wonderful music. Do you know
            Brother Byrum I have been thinking what
            a wonderful place this would be for a camp
(Laughter Among the Trumpets/60).
In cooperation with the nine-member Ministers’ Assembly, several of the brethren purchased that sixty acres early in 1892, at a “very reasonable price” The February 25, 1892 Gospel Trumpet, then carried an appeal for workers needed to prepare for the first camp meeting at Grand Junction to begin June 14, 1892.
The Camp Meeting moved to Grand Junction and the publishing work continued in downtown Grand Junction until 1896, when it relocated to Moundsville, WVA.  Here is HOW Warner reported this series of events from Williamston, MI. (GT 7-1-1886).

          One good and noble work wrought at the
            Bangor Camp Meeting was not mentioned
            in our report. The Spirit led us to appropriate
            the time of one meeting to the consideration to
            one meeting of the publishing interests. It was
            what might be termed a business meeting, but
            about as much unlike a babylon, money-raising
            buffoonery, as Heaven differs from the coarse
            humor of a clown show. It was indeed the most
            melting service of the whole meeting. Few eyes
            of the saints were dry, as we all talked freely of
            the great work God is carrying on in the earth,
            and of the marvelous blessings His evening light
            has brought to our souls. The Spirit of God won-
            derfully presided over the meeting and filled all         
            hearts with increased love to God and the holy           
            The removal of the Trumpet office to that
            part of the state, seemed the mind of the          
            Spirit, and of all the saints. . .a building,
            commodious and substantial was offered
            for half its worth, namely $800, in the town
            of Grand Junction. The place is located at the
            crossing of the Chicago and West Mich. and
            the South Haven branch of the Michigan Cen-
            tral Railroads and is surrounded by about four
            hundred saints, who propose to greatly lighten
            the expenses of publishing salvation, by giving
            fuel, provision, etc. And every dollar saved in this
            way helps to enlarge the circulation of truth.   
            The saints unanimously agreed to purchase the
            property; $80 were raised to pay moving expenses.
            The time agreed upon to pay for the building is Au-
            gust 1st. and there were pledged to be ready by that
            time, $257 by the saints present. Dear Bro. Michaels,
            and several others, were to procure, for one year,       
            whatever was lacking of the full amount, and a few   
            pledged over $100 to be paid one year hence.”
                        (Willowby/Family Reunion/22-23)

At this writing, the current Camp Association just completed the 113th annual Grand Junction Camp Meeting of 2005, Wm. C. Ellis, Evangelist. I began attending Grand Junction in the late 1920’s (1927-28) as a babe in my mother’s arms. Some of my fondest childhood memories come from the eighteen years that followed. Since that time, I have attended camp meetings from one coast to the other, from the deep southwest as far north as Ontario, Canada. Frequently accompanied by my wife and children, we enjoyed cultural diversity as varied as Texas and Ontario, Arkansas and Michigan, Oregon and West Virginia.

Whether the language was the familiar Middle-west dialect of my heritage, the southwest twang of my wife, or an unknown Spanish tongue, the message was always the same in essence. Sometimes it was designed with an ethnically African-American flavor. Yet, the love of God reigned supreme and everyone walked together in the freedom of holiness and unity.

The walls of separation--erected by divisive ethnicity, denominational pride, and gender compe-tition--came down as we worshipped God as brothers and sisters in Christ--sharing a common bond. 

In 1947, Alton and Dorothy Phipps of San Antonio, TX Highland Park church introduced my new bride and me to the gospel in Spanish and the camp meeting setting of Somerset, TX. There, we met Brother Toyfolla and members of his Toyfolla family, as they conducted the first Hispanic camp meetings in the Church of God.
That was the beginning of a long Hispanic Church of God ministry now Coordinated through the Spanish Concilio and expanded to include Native Americans. 

After graduating from Bible College, I visited camp meeting at Hope, AR. I was the new pastor at a southern white congregation, a novice in ministry, accompanied by two veteran white pastors and one venerated older black-brother who would remain my friend for many years.

Hosting us at that meeting were Earl Gladney and his associates--my first exposure to black camp meeting. When I left there, I went with a coterie of names that would remain with me as peers in ministry--and friends--for the next half-century.

Frequently going places I had never been, the 1970’s found me going again--participating in camp meeting in the foothills of northern California, in the Sierra near Nevada City--not far from the Yuba River. Again, I found myself crossing paths with that well known Kentucky orator, Willard Wilcox. Delivering a typical Wilcox camp meeting oration, Willard expressed his pleasure at preaching for the first time in the lovely open air amphitheatre at “Diamond Arrow.”     Californians, many of whom had never met Willard Wilcox, heard the quaint Kentuckian refer to their open air sanctuary as the “Cathedral of the Pines.” Those worshippers heard Wilcox.

The name fit the location and it captured the imagination of the audience, and stuck! Decades later, people still explode with enthusiasm when  describing in glowing terms the experiences they enjoyed at the “Cathedral of the Pines.”

Nestled by Mother Nature at the 3500 foot level of the northern Sierra foothills, it is adjacent to eleven hundred acres of federal park land that includes a gold mine (Ever been in a gold mine?).

In time I would enjoy multiple experiences of rich fellowship with the Ontario Church of God that meets annually at the Free Methodist campground at Thamesford, Ontario.

Having attended our International Convention at Anderson, Indiana for more than half a century, I have been on the grounds when I, myself, heard them announce over the public address system that some 42,000 people were estimated to be in attendance.

Attendance guestimates sometimes risk unintentional inflation, but Richard Willowby was never more right than when he concluded “Nothing is more Church of God than camp meeting!”(Family Reunion/Warner Press/1986).

Our very first such national encampment took place at the Harris Farm two miles north of Bangor, MI. in 1883. It seems that Sebastian Michels handled the dining details, managing the food preparation, which they offered family style to any and all, for a free will offering.

That year saw Emma Miller of Battle Creek receive her sight in a dramatic healing, that we still talk about. Camp Meeting in West Michigan became a journey that has now celebrated more than 120 summers.

The year 1884 saw campers travel hundreds of miles to attend the Bangor Camp Meeting. One brother walked 170 miles. Reports from 1885 suggest that 200-300 people met, erected 19 tents, and experienced 220 consecrations. Remember, this was a “holiness camp meeting,” thus, reports included 200 people sanctified.

By 1890, thousands were driving in. This required a tabernacle, a large tent, and two other lo-cations, to conduct simultaneous services to accom-modate the people.  Church of God families have since that time continued to sing, worship, pray and play at a growing number of camp meetings. By 1895, the Gospel Trumpet was reporting a growing number of defined camp meetings, assemblies, and  fellowship events.

My earliest camp meeting  recollections began with “going to Grand Junction” for preaching services. After Sunday morning preaching, my parents spread a blanket on the grassy slopes adjacent to what is now the camp cemetery--site of D. S. Warner’s grave.

There, a few hundred yards west of the current tabernacle, we joined other families in Sunday dinners, picnic style. Spending the day on the grounds, we walked and talked with gifted preachers and leaders from across the Movement.

O. L. Yerty lived in the area of Cass County--a man noted across the church for an extraordinary gift of healing. Young men came to preach, like Hershel Rice. Hershel graduated from Anderson College, married his bride-to-be and came as camp evangelist to spend the week on his honeymoon.

As an adolescent, I thought Hershel Rice was  greatest preacher I had ever heard. Then Boyce Blackwelder came. The young fire-brand from Concord, North Carolina was a veritable southern style ball of fire and enormously popular.

Camp Meeting at Grand Junction provided the circumstances for my first love affair--I was twelve. I did not see that bewitching girl for an entire year--until the following camp meeting. Then, I learned she attended church in Benton Harbor, fewer than twenty-five miles from me, but by then my affections had bounded off elsewhere.

The Story boys were four in number: Merle, Melvin, Dale, and Bob, As I remember, two of them joined me in hitchhiking the eleven miles to South Haven, probably camp meeting 1944 (at least one was gone to war). We purchased a watermelon at the A&P store, where I was employed, and we thumbed our way back to the camp grounds--eleven miles.

The Story family lived on the camp grounds in what is now called “the Farm House.” At that time, their parents operated a working farm.  Three of the boys, their sister, and I, all went to high school together. All are active in the church and several are retired out west. 

During the early fifties, I went to Texas as a young pastor, attending State camp meeting at Eastland. There, I viewed the ruins of J. T. Wilson’s Bible Training School--blazing sun, rattle snakes, and West Texas Mesquite. The church sold the property to the city of Eastland for developmental purposes shortly after the turn of the new millennium.

Approaching the end of the century, I visited Camargo, KY. and found two of my former Sunday School kids--Paul and Lana Sanders, who grew up going to youth camp at Eastland, Texas--Camargo pastors at the time. There, I learned more about that well-known Church of God camp meeting tradition called “Camargo.” There are documents there that remain from early “Saints” of that area.

Wallace Thornton recalls the year 1771, the year that Francis Asbury landed in North America and America had very few Methodists. Asbury rode horseback for 45 years, covering 270,000 miles. He preached 16,500 sermons, presided over 240 annual conferences, and ordained 4,000 preachers.

At his death, he left in his wake 2,000 ministers, 200,000 Methodists in the States, and several thousand more additional converts in Canada (Radical Righteousness Schmul/19-98/39ff) .

Presbyterians promoted-and-led those earliest camp meetings, men like James Mc Gready and Barton Stone. Without doubt, the most famous camp meeting was the 1801 camp meeting at Cane Ridge, KY., where  The Restoration Movement celebrated the 200th Anniversary of the Cane Ridge event, with “The Great Gathering 2001.”

Dr. Henry Webb left us one description of that event, describing a group of settlers coming to the area on a recommendation by Daniel Boone (“Christian Standard”/7-1-01/3-5). The settlers were searching for good land, led by Presbyterian pastor Robert Findley. Boone had designated a place where there was a big cane break, thus the name Cane Ridge. 

There the settlers built log houses and a large church building out of blue ash logs and that Meeting House still stands today, carefully preserved. That pastor was dismissed a few months later, however, for getting drunk, and in 1798 they called a conscientious young, not-yet-ordained minister named Barton Stone.   Troubled by the poor spiritual conditions on the frontier, Stone learned about a revival in Logan County, down on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, and went with eager anticipation. At the Logan County revival, Stone heard James Mc Gready, and his brothers, conducting a powerful revival that produced dramatic conversions that included Peter Cartwright.

Historian James North describes James Mc Gready as “one of the last great preachers in the southern great awakening” and a man who had a great influence on Stone. Strong  frontiersmen were reported fainting, weeping, and swooning. Greatly renewed in his troubled spirit,

Stone returned to Cane Ridge and announced a “sacramental communion” for the first Sunday of August. Such occasions were generally big affairs, but Stone was entirely unprepared for what happened. Surprise! Surprise! Word spread across the region and thousands came--the revival from Logan County spread to the Cane Ridge area.

By 1799 other ministers had become involved and in 1879-1880 the first “camp meeting” took place as people came in with provisions and camped on the church grounds, resulting in a powerful outdoor revival--the beginning of the camp meeting trend (North/Union in Truth/1994/45).

The first Cane Ridge camp meeting of 1801 had no motels, restaurants, or convention centers, but it bustled with an estimated 20,000 people. As many as a dozen gatherings met simultaneously, gathered around different preachers that stood on stumps preaching.
t began with Presbyterians, spread to Baptists and Methodists, and beyond. Interestingly, Squire Boone, the brother of Daniel Boone, became Kentucky’s very first Baptist preacher.

Those self-reliant frontiersmen gathered their families into wagons, loaded their bedrolls, gathered available flour, meal, meat and vegetables, and headed for Cane Ridge--twenty miles east of Lexington. They cooked over open fires and slept in their blankets beneath their wagons, the beginning of  the 19th century phenomenon called frontier camp meeting.

Like a fever, camp meetings spread conta-giously. By 1805 Francis Asbury called them the “Methodist’s harvest time.” He encouraged the Methodists to conduct six hundred camp meetings by 1810. By 1830, camp meetings had be-come an almost totally Methodist event, which made “the Methodist Episcopal Church the largest denomination in the United States by 1830.”

After Peter Cartright experienced his conversion he became a leading camp meeting preacher for half a century. Of special interest to me is Sojourner Truth, who moved to Battle Creek and became that City’s first claim to national fame--predating Tony the Tiger of cereal fame.  

This illiterate black woman and escaped slave also became a holiness Methodist preacher. Princeton historian, Nell Painter, describes Sojourner working in the well-known East-coast Millerite camp meetings that introduced “Adventism” in the mid-1800‘s.

Sojourner reportedly out-prayed, out-preached, and out-drew some of the most celebrated male preachers of that era. This allegedly included the Irish Methodist, John Newland Maffitt, described as being as brilliant as a shower of falling stars.        

Camp meetings became spiritual adventures in fellowship and evangelism. They provided significant times for proclaiming Christ’s Second Advent. They also provided advantageous occasions to vigorously call for the abolishment of slavery and racism. They forthrightly promoted women’s rights, which included equality in the pulpit.       

As Methodism distanced itself from the rapidly expanding holiness movement, and relaxed its teachings on sanctification and holiness, the holiness doctrine gathered momentum under the flag of the National Holiness Association.

D. S. Warner participated actively in the Western Convention of 1880 in Jacksonville, IL. It was there he preached his sermon on “The Kind of Power Needed to Carry The Holiness Work.”

Across the years, as I listened to the pros and cons of supporting camp meeting, I confessed to more than one audience that “I’m not a camper, but I WILL come to camp meeting.” Wherever my family went, we were known for our active support of camp meeting, whether we were on the program or not.

As leaders of a Church of God congregation across forty-five years, my wife and I invested enormous blocks of time and expense in the support and maintenance of camp meetings and would do it again. We enjoyed it, but--most importantly--our people benefited by it--spiritually, socially, and in every way.

Times have changed greatly, as has life in the church. The urbanizing of American life and the introduction of the information age has changed everything about us. Moreover, when more and better methods of ministry come, I’m prepared to change with them. Maintaining programs simply because they are part of a tradition in no way sanctifies them or satisfies me! Ministry is far too important for that!

The one thing I am not willing to relinquish, however, is the kind of spiritual commitment that I learned at camp meeting. In no way do I suggest camp meeting is the only place you can learn it, but the covenant that D. S. Warner signed with God in 1877 concretely illustrates the commitment that is, and must continue to be, at the core of our beliefs and practices. It is a commitment that goes beyond mere discipline and it results in a lifestyle of holiness.
          Warner wrote as follows:

          “. . .In signing my name to this solemn
            covenant,” he wrote, “I am aware that I
            bind myself to live, act, speak, think, move,
            sit, stand up, lie down, eat,” (eat underlined
            3 times), drink, hear, see, feel and whatso-
            ever I do all the days and nights of my life to
             do all continually and exclusively to the Glory
            of God . . .” (Warner’s Journal).       

So, the next time camp meeting rolls around--just maybe--I might see YOU there.........!

From Warner’s World,
I am