October means camp meeting time for Methodists in Southeast Mississippi, and the 196th annual Salem Camp meeting is almost here.
A singing will kick off the weeklong activities on Sun., Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. featuring the group, Deliverance, from the University of Mobile. Official worship services will start the following day, Mon., Oct. 3, with special singing at 6:30 p.m. and worship service at 7 p.m. Thrice-daily services start Tuesday, Oct. 4 with a 7:30 a.m. prayer time, morning worship at 10:30 a.m. and singing and worship at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Camp meeting will conclude on Sun., Oct. 9 with 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. worship services.
Rev. Jonathan Tullos, Pastor of Pleasant Hill/Salem churches will serve as host pastor. Rev. John Branning from Central United Methodist Church in Meridian will be the guest evangelist. Rev. Wesley Pepper of Armory United Methodist Church will lead the music. The group, Deliverance, from the University of Mobile will sing at Salem Camp Meeting on Sunday, October 2, at 6 p.m.
Families and friends gather here each year for worship, reunion and spiritual renewal. Worshippers come from far and near each fall to attend Salem camp meeting, the oldest existing camp meeting in the state. Established in 1826, the campground sits on the Jackson-George County line one mile west of Mississippi 63 at 26900 Salem Campground Road. Many worshippers camp in little wooden cabins they call “tents.” Twenty-two tents surround the tabernacle, and many have been passed down through the generations from founders of the campground.
Camp meetings date to the very early 1800s when Methodist evangelists, circuit-riders as they were called, traveled on horseback to sparsely populated areas to deliver religious messages. Whenever a preacher was in the vicinity, people traveled up to 25 miles to hear God’s word and to fellowship. Upon arrival at the grounds, they stayed several days sleeping in tents and cooking on campfires. People gathered, creating encampments, for a week or partial week of preaching that took place frequently throughout each day. Between sermons they mixed and mingled leading to the establishment of societies, which organized and governed the meetings.