‘Awakening’: Canton pastor invites everyone to ‘be with God’ at the 176th Holbrook Camp Meeting
by Ellen Eldridge
July 12, 2014 12:18 AM | 4022 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Michael Ridings, center, and Dwight Smithwick talk on the porch of their tent at Holbrook Campground in Alpharetta on Thursday. <br> Staff/C.B. Schmelter
Michael Ridings, center, and Dwight Smithwick talk on the porch of their tent at Holbrook Campground in Alpharetta on Thursday.
Staff/C.B. Schmelter
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From left, Nancy Sams, Terry Hopkins and her 5-month-old daughter Harper, and Dwight Smithwick sing inside the Arbor.
From left, Nancy Sams, Terry Hopkins and her 5-month-old daughter Harper, and Dwight Smithwick sing inside the Arbor.
slideshow
A tradition nearly as old as Cherokee County itself returns for its 176th year at the Holbrook Campground, located between Cumming and Canton. Holbrook Camp Meeting opened with the first service Friday night and will continue through July 20.

What started in 1839 as a meeting place for local Methodists continues as a gathering of individuals seeking to rededicate their lives to Christ.

Though the faithful followers who arrived in covered wagons year after year — even during the Civil War — now drive cars and trucks, the focus of celebrating the Lord remains.

The campground boasts 75 “tents,” or cabin structures, surrounding an historic arbor, built in 1890 with materials from earlier structures. Many of the families used Friday to move into the campground for the duration of the camp meeting.

“May the heritage of the past strengthen our future” is the slogan printed on the flyer, and the involvement of pastors from both Methodist and Baptist denominations proves the meeting is more about spirituality than religious dogma.

One of the two pastors invited to preach this year, the Rev. Jim McRae of Canton First United Methodist Church, said he has been preparing his sermons on “awakening” for more than a month. He said he is honored and excited to be part of a long-held tradition of families from different denominations coming together to celebrate God. The other pastor scheduled is the Rev. John Lay of North Lanier Baptist Church.

“What I love about camp meetings involves a tremendous awakening of our spirit,” McRae said. “People come out, gather, spend the night, eat, worship, sing, relax and surrender. They move from the busy life of the world and come out to be with God.” 

McRae said he believes the setting of the campground makes the experience special.

“There is just something different about preaching the word of God in this setting that makes it so special,” he said. “I invite anyone and everyone to come join us. It is really an experience you don’t want to miss.”

This spiritual renewal for Christians begins daily at 9:15 a.m. and continues daily with worship services held in the arbor at 11 a.m., 3 p.m., and the last service of the day is at 8 p.m.

McRae said his daily sermons, “How to awaken our spirit,” will be broken up where he preaches two sermons one day followed by one sermon and continuing throughout the week for a total of 13 sermons.

“I always thought these meetings were tremendous places of awakening in our hearts,” he said, adding that these meetings bring people to God, change the direction of their lives and awaken their spirits.

The campground address is 2415 Holbrook Campground Road, located one mile off Highway 20.

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