Where Did Camp Meetings Begin?

Picture 16There are many traditions that have been woven into the fabric of churches. One of those is what has been referred to as “Camp Meetings.” This is a time where groups of congregations gather together for a joint time of worship and ministry. But, where did this idea come from?

I came across the following piece in my reading of Reminiscences of Rev. Henry Boehm on page 128.

“The introduction of camp-meetings into the Peninsula formed a new era in Methodism in that section of country. Worshiping in the groves, God’s first temples, was a novelty, and called out the people by thousands. The ministers preached with unusual power, for crowds inspired them, and converts were multiplied as the drops of the morning. I attended all these meetings and kept a record of them.

“Camp-meeting had their origin in Tennessee, in 1799. Two brothers, named Magee, one a Methodist the other a Presbyterian minister, had the high honor of originating them. With John Magee, the Methodist, I was acquainted for several years; I traveled with him many miles, and heard him preach. He was the father-in-law of the Rev. Thomas L Douglas.

“Jesse Lee introduced camp-meetings into Virginia and Maryland, and then to Deleware. But the first camp-meeting in the East was held by the Rev. William Thatcher, in Carmel, New York in 1804.”

My church still enjoys the camp meeting concept and it was interesting to discover it’s first beginnings.


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