Camp meeting

Camp meeting

The camp meeting as a Christian gathering originated in the United States of America. The English founders of Primitive Methodism took inspiration from this for a way of holding an extended prayer meeting.

Camp meetings in America

The camp meeting is a phenomenon of American frontier Christianity. The movement of thousands of persons to what had previously been trackless wilderness in the 18th century in America had led to something of a religious vacuum. Not only were there few authorized houses of worship, there were even fewer ordained ministers to fill their pulpits. The "camp meeting" was an innovative response to this situation. Word of mouth told that there was to be a religious meeting at a certain location. Due to the primitive means of transportation, if this meeting was to be more than a few miles' distance from those attending, it would necessitate their leaving home for its entire duration, or as long as they desired to remain, and camping out at or near its site, as usually there were neither adequate accommodations or the funds necessary to obtain them. At a large camp meeting, many came from over a large area, some out of sincere religious devotion or interest, others out of curiosity and a desire for a break from the arduous frontier routine, although many in this latter group often became sincere converts as well.

Freed from their daily routines for the duration of the meeting, unlike traditional religious events these meetings could provide their participants with almost continuous services; once one speaker was finished (often after several hours) another would often rise to take his place. These sorts of meetings were huge contributing factors to what became known as the Second Great Awakening. A particularly large and successful one was held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801, where the Restoration Movement began to be formalized. They gained wide recognition and a substantial increase in popularity in the aftermath of the American Civil War as a result of the first Holiness movement Camp Meeting in Vineland, New Jersey in 1867. Ocean Grove, New Jersey, founded in 1869, has been called the "Queen of the Victorian Methodist Camp Meetings." At the end of the nineteenth century, believers in Spiritualism also established camp meetings throughout the United States.

In 1815 in what is now Toronto, Ohio, the Rev. J. M. Bray, pastor of the Sugar Grove Methodist Episcopal Church, began an annual camp meeting that, in 1875, became interdenominational upon its purchase by what is now the Hollow Rock Holiness Camp Meeting Association. The association, which still runs the camp, claims that it is the oldest Christian camp meeting in continual existence in the United States. [cite web |url= |title=Holiness at Hollow Rock |accessdate=2007-07-26 |last=Kiaski |first=Janice |date= |format= | ]

Camp meetings in America continued to be conducted for many years on a wide scale and some are still held today, primarily by Pentecostal groups but by some other Protestants and Spiritualists as well. The revival meeting is often felt to be a modern-day attempt to recreate the spirit of the frontier camp meeting.

Camp meetings in British Methodism

On Sunday 31 May 1807 the first Camp Meeting was held in England at Mow Cop. The Wesleyan Methodists disapproved and subsequently expelled Hugh Bourne "because you have a tendency to set up other than the ordinary worship" which led eventually to the formation of the Primitive Methodist Church.

Lorenzo Dow brought reports of Camp Meetings from America during his visits to England. Hugh Bourne, William Clowes and Daniel Shoebotham saw this as an answer to complaints from members of the Harriseahead Methodists that their weeknight prayer meeting was too short. Bourne also saw these as an antidote to the general debauchery of the Wakes in that part of the Potteries, one of the reasons why he continued organising Camp Meetings in spite of the opposition from the Wesleyan authorities.

The pattern of the Primitive Methodist Camp Meeting was as a time of prayer and preaching from the Bible. In the first Camp Meeting, 4 separate "preaching stations" had been set up by the afternoon, each with an audience, while in between others spent the time praying. Their emphasis on the Bible is a clear distinction from the spiritualist strand of American camp meetings.

From May 1807 to the establishing of Primitive Methodism as a denomination in 1811, a series of 17 Camp Meetings was held. [H B Kendall, “The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church”, (1906 for the 1907 Camp Meeting Centenary), p. 89 ISBN 1901670-49-X ISBN 9781901670-49-3 (EAN-13 format)] There were a number of different venues beyond Mow Cop, including Norton-in-the-Moors during the Wakes in 1807 (Hugh Bourne's target venue), and Ramsor in 1808.

After Hugh Bourne and a significant number of his colleagues, including the Standley Methodist Society, had been put out of membership of the Burslem Wesleyan Circuit, they formed a group known as the Camp Meeting Methodists until 1811 when they joined with the followers of William Clowes, the "Clowesites".

Camp Meetings were a regular feature of Primitive Methodist life throughout the 19th century, [Continued mention in Circuit Plans and the Minutes of Circuit Meetings] and still have existence in other forms today. The annual late May Bank Holiday weekend meetings at Cliff College [ [ Cliff College] is a Methodist training college in Derbyshire. The meetings are an annual attraction for many Methodists.] are one example, with a number of tents around the site, each with a different preacher.

Literature and music

* Paul Gillespie and his students (editors), "Foxfire 7", Anchor Books, New York 1980, ISBN 0-385-15244-2

*Moore, William D., 1997. "'To Hold Communion with Nature and the Spirit-World:' New England's Spiritualist Camp Meetings, 1865-1910." In Annmarie Adams and Sally MacMurray, eds. "Exploring Everyday Landscapes: Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, VII". Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 0-87049-983-1.

* George Rawlyk "The Canada Fire: Radical Evangelicalism in British North America, 1775-1812." McGill-Queen's UP, 1994.

*The 20th century American composer Charles Ives used the Camp Meeting phenomenon as a metaphysical basis for his Symphony No. 3 (Ives). Although the piece wasn't initially performed until almost 40 years after it's composition in 1946, it did succeed in winning the Pulitzer Prize the following year in 1947.


External links

* [ Christian Camp and Conference Association]
* [ Journal of Methodist itinerant Nathan Bangs (1778–1862) recounting the first camp meeting held in Upper Canada in 1805]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Camp meeting — Camp Camp (k[a^]mp), n. [F. camp, It. campo, fr. L. campus plant, field; akin to Gr. kh^pos garden. Cf. {Campaign}, {Champ}, n.] 1. The ground or spot on which tents, huts, etc., are erected for shelter, as for an army or for lumbermen, etc. Shak …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • camp meeting — ☆ camp meeting n. a religious gathering held outdoors or in a tent, etc., usually lasting several days …   English World dictionary

  • Camp Meeting — Ein Camp Meeting ist eine religiöse Erweckungsveranstaltung in der Regel unter freiem Himmel in den USA. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Geschichte 2 Sonstiges 3 Siehe auch 4 Literatur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Camp-Meeting — Ein Camp Meeting ist eine religiöse Erweckungsveranstaltung in der Regel unter freiem Himmel in den USA. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Geschichte 2 Sonstiges 3 Siehe auch 4 Literatur // …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • camp-meeting — camp meetˈing noun A religious gathering in the open air or in a temporary encampment • • • Main Entry: ↑camp …   Useful english dictionary

  • camp meeting — camp′ meet ing n. rel a religious gathering held in a tent or in the open air • Etymology: 1790–1800 …   From formal English to slang

  • camp meeting — a religious gathering held in a tent or in the open air. [1790 1800] * * * ▪ religion       type of outdoor revival meeting that was held on the American frontier during the 19th century by various Protestant denominations. Camp meetings filled… …   Universalium

  • camp meeting — noun religious (usually evangelistic) meeting held in a large tent or outdoors and lasting several days • Hypernyms: ↑meeting, ↑group meeting * * * noun, pl ⋯ ings [count] US : a religious meeting that is held outdoors and is often attended by… …   Useful english dictionary

  • camp meeting — noun Date: 1803 a series of evangelistic meetings usually held outdoors and attended by persons who often camp nearby …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Camp Meeting (album) — Infobox Album Name = Camp Meeting Type = Studio album Artist = Bruce Hornsby (The Bruce Hornsby Trio) Released = 2007 Recorded = Genre = Jazz Length = Label = SonyBMG/Legacy Producer = Reviews = * Music Box Rating|4|5 [http://www.musicbox… …   Wikipedia

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