“Twas an old-fashioned meeting in an old-fashioned place, where some old-fashioned people had some old-fashioned grace. As an old-fashioned sinner, I began to pray. And God heard me and saved me in an old-fashioned way,” are the words of 19th century Methodist preacher and composer Herbert Buffum.
That old-fashioned sentiment still rings at places like New Prospect United Methodist Campground where camp meeting will take place Oct. 11-18 jumpstarted by a gospel quartet performance on the eve of the weeklong revival.
Special music featuring the Crimson City Quartet will set the tone on Sat. Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. The annual memorial service will be Sunday at 7:30 p.m. to remember loved ones who have passed. Morning worship services are set 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. daily the remainder of the week with special groups singing at 7 p.m. prior to the services.
Safety guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic will be followed including mask-wearing, social distancing, and no congregational singing.
This year’s guest minister is Rev. Russell Fletcher. Song Director is Michael Hedgepeth. Rev. Larry Hilliard, United Methodist Seashore District Superintendent, will lead the memorial service. Host pastors are Rev. Chuck Frost, Rev. Bobby Morris, Rev. David Greer, and Rev. Kris Rouse. Host churches are Vancleave United Methodist, Bonnie Chapel United Methodist, Pine Grove United Methodist, Red Hill United Methodist, and Mt. Pleasant United Methodist.
Located on Campground Road north of Vancleave off Mississippi 57, New Prospect is in its 140th year of annual religious revivals. In midsummer 1880, a meeting took place to consider the establishment of a campground. That meeting was attended by Martha Byrd, John A. Flurry, John Rouse, David Dubose, Lewis Havens, George Byrd, Enoch Ramsay, Jeff Lott, William Devareaux, Rev. J.H. Havens, Rev. Ervin Roberts, Rev. W.W. Broom, Rev. G.E. Ellis and Honorable Henry C. Havens. A site was selected, and descendants of these individuals are still tent holders at New Prospect. Eighty-two tents occupy the grounds anchored by the historic tabernacle sporting the United Methodist cross and red flame. Meetings take place underneath the tabernacle daily with plenty of time for fellowship between services. Tenters don’t own the property; instead, they procure the right to own a tent from an association comprised of fellow tenters.
Although Mississippi has been home to numerous Methodist campgrounds, few still exist. The campground movement dates back to the very early 1800s. It was the product of American frontier life when people dwelled sparsely. Because churches and schools were rare, circuit-riding evangelists spread the gospel traveling on horseback or by covered wagon to isolated places. Families traveled to sites to hear the preaching. Upon arrival at the grounds, they stayed several days sleeping in tents and cooking on campfires. Societies grew from many of these early campgrounds and regulars returned each year to hear the word of God. Eventually, many families built crude little wooden cabins for housing during the week; however, they continued to refer to them as tents.
What is camp meeting today? Imagine a place for natives to come home. Picture children ball-playing and mud-pie making between sermons. Listen for lullabies of grandmothers soothing sleepy babies. Taste delectable home cooking, feel the serenity of front-porch sitting and smell the freshness of country air. Top that with good gospel, and you have an old-fashioned camp meeting.