Methodists will host 198th historic camp meeting at Sulphur Springs

Published 9:06 am Friday, August 4, 2017

Area United Methodists and their neighbors will worship together Aug. 6-9 for the 198th consecutive year during a camp meeting in Sulphur Springs near Jonesborough.
Guest speaker for each service will be Bishop Richard C. Looney.
Bishop Looney is a native of Hillsville, Va., having graduated from Emory and Henry College and Candler School of Theology. He had additional study in the University of Edinburg, Scotland and Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va. Bishop Looney is a member of Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and has served well in many churches of Holston, including Munsey Memorial, Johnson City, and Telford United Methodist and most recently Church Street UMC in Knoxville. Looney served as Resident Bishop in the South Georgia area from 1988 until his retirement in 2000. Some of his general church responsibilities included the General Council on Finance and Administration, General Board of Church and Society and Council on Ministry. He has enjoyed pulpit exchanges in England and Australia and work missions shared in Peru, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. He currently serves as Episcopal Director of the Foundation on Evangelism, Lake Junaluska, N.C. Bishop Looney has three children, Teresa, David and Jonathan, and a lovely granddaughter,Maria, along with three grandsons, Logan, Joseph and Ian.
His wife Carolyn served him faithfully until her death in 2009.
The Sunday through Wednesday evening gatherings will be held at the historic campshed in front of Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church, located on State Highway 75 about six miles south from Interstate 26, Gray-Appalachian Fair exit. (The campshed is located at 1432 Gray Sulphur Springs Road, Jonesborough.)
Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. a Youth Gathering will be held in the campshed led by the Reverend Rosemary Brown, a native of East Tennessee, and currently serving two churches in Nashville. At 4 p.m., the camp meeting will begin with a Rise Against Hunger Food Packing Event. Volunteers will gather from 4 to 6 p.m. to assemble 10,000 meals to be sent to help feed the hungry. Anyone wishing to volunteer may do so by calling Michael Vaughn at 423-833-2909 or at
Each evening there will be congregational singing. Also special groups, including St. Paul UMC Elizabethton choir, ETSU Swashbucklers, Grace Station Praise Band from Gray UMC and Munsey Memorial UMC will be featured. Music begins at 6:30 p.m. with the worship service immediately afterwards.
A nursery will be available for infants through age three each evening in the Family Life Center. A special children’s program consisting of Bible stories and Bible verses, music, games and much more will be held Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. A light meal will be served to the children.
All events are free and open to all who wish to attend, although opportunities to make offerings will be provided.
Both the campshed and the worship held on the site have played critical roles in the development of Methodism in Southern Appalachia. As early as 1802, Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal that he had attended a camp meeting in the area, with more than 1,500 people present. Most likely, Asbury attended a meeting held in a brush arbor. The gathering was formally organized in 1820, with the shed being built in 1842.
The shed was rebuilt in 1900, but the original hand-hewn logs were incorporated into the new structure and still can be seen today.
Originally, families traveled far to worship three times a day at the site for four or five days. Their long stays led to the construction of a series of cabins around the shed. These were torn down in the early 20th century as transportation improved and meetings became shorter.

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