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Churches gear up for camp meetings

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POSTED: November 8, 2010 12:49 p.m.
Another year means another camp meeting celebration at Pleasant Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church. No matter how bleak the world may seem, nothing dampens the spirits of the church’s congregants during this annual event.
The week leading up to the first Sunday in November is replete with anticipation and excitement. Participants renew old friendships and make new acquaintances.
The camp meeting has long been one of the biggest fellowship gatherings in Liberty Country. It has become an integral part of the area’s history.
Churches throughout Liberty County are invited to join in the week-long celebration at Pleasant Grove. The theme for this year’s meeting is “it takes a whole village to raise a church.”
“We are excited about camp meeting 2010. The Lord has blessed us and we are looking forward to more things as a result of what God did yesterday. We have a new joy, a new spirit and we’re preparing for a new building,” Pastor John E. Morse said.
“I am honored to be a part of the new generation to keep the tradition of the camp meeting going. It is a time to reflect and a time to honor,” church historian Donald Lovette said.
Pleasant Grove AME was founded on June 29, 1869 at Taylor’s Creek on the Fort Stewart reservation. The founder and first pastor was the Rev. Piner Martin, a community leader.
“The members worshiped in a small frame house. The first church was called the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Later, the growing membership purchased 16.6 acres of land and built a larger church,” Lovette said.
Presiding Elder Henry Frasier, who was raised on the Fort Stewart reservation until his family relocated, said, “Camp meetings bring back memories of mothers and fathers and how they sang. We would walk to the camp meeting. They would sing all the way there and all the way back. Sometimes it would be cold with a full moon. The same way God blessed our mothers and fathers, He is blessing us. It shows me how good God was then and how good He is now.”
Every year on the Saturday before the camp meeting, friends and families return to the Fort Stewart reservation to visit the original church site. Most long-time Pleasant Grove members grew up on the reservation.
This year’s camp meeting revival began Sunday, Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. with an old-fashioned celebration. Evangelist Daisy Pray, Walthourville mayor, preached the sermon. The meeting officially kicked off at 6 p.m. that evening when former Pastor Abraham Frazier of Savannah spoke.
Services continued each night at 7. Dr. Hermon Scott of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church in Allenhurst spoke Monday; the Rev. Debbie Neal of St. Peter’s AME Church in Midway spoke Tuesday; the Rev. Frank Jones of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Walthourville spoke Wednesday; the Rev. Richie Williams of Bethel AME Church in Hinesville spoke Thursday; and Bishop Matthew Odum of Temple of Glory Church in Savannah spoke Friday.
Closing services were Sunday with Pastor Morse. Dinner and entertainment by The Gospel Quintet as well as a Love-it-Productions skit, “It’s Not About You,” completed the afternoon along with a memorial service and the final service with the Rev. Stanford Anderson of Calvary Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond Hill.
 

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