Rural Missouri - July 2013 - (Page 8)
The faithful ﬁnd the spirit at Lake Creek Camp Meeting
This month marks the 170th year that the faithful have ﬂocked to the Lake Creek Methodist Church’s camp meeting held under a giant tent near the church ﬁve miles south of
Smithton. While there are other camp meetings held in Missouri, this is considered to be the oldest such gathering west of the Mississippi River.
by Jim McCarty
hey came on horseback or by
wagon. They brought their
milk cows and packed bedding for an extended stay.
They pitched tents in a clearing. Here,
surrounded by nature, they praised
God in a chorus of hallelujahs in the
forest during the ﬁrst of what would
become many camp meeting revivals.
When the 2013 Lake Creek Camp
Meeting is held July 28-Aug. 4, it will
mark 170 years since those believers
“It’s an annual event that started in
1843,” says the Rev. Jason Veale, pastor of the Lake Creek and Smithton
United Methodist churches. “During
that time, they only missed two camp
meetings. One was during the Civil
War and the other was during the ﬂu
epidemic of 1918.”
The origins of camp meetings —
religious revivals where those attending camp for the duration — can be
traced back to Kentucky preacher
James McGready, who hosted a wilderness revival in 1800. This grew
into meetings that lasted weeks and
brought thousands to worship.
Camp meetings appealed to the
German Methodists who were moving
to Missouri, following the Osage River
west into the interior of the state.
One of the most active groups settled
in Pettis County along Lake Creek,
southeast of Sedalia.
The ﬁrst Lake Creek camp meeting in 1843 was led by circuit-riding
preacher Sebastian Barth, who used
the event to gather converts and
supporters for a church. The ﬁrst
stomachs, allowing none
log church was built
to go away hungry.”
in 1844, and the camp
Rough-hewn cabmeetings continued.
ins that provided a few
By 1878, the Sedalia
To watch a video from last
Democrat reported, “The
year’s camp meeting, click more creature comforts
soon popped up around
this button inside our
the tabernacle in the
are holding an olddigital edition, online at
center of the ﬁeld. These
fashioned camp meetwww.ruralmissouri.coop.
cabins were torn down
ing on the banks of the
and moved to the camp
classic stream known as
meeting’s present location in 1891.
Lake Creek. It is estimated that 1,500
There were four rows of cabins
persons were in attendance Sunday.
built at the new location, along with
A more orderly meeting was never
two others for the pastor and visiting
held. They reach sinners through their
The Rev. Cody Collier, Heartland South District superintendent for the Missouri
Conference of the United Methodist Church, was one of the featured speakers at the
2012 Lake Creek Camp Meeting. Guest preachers may be from many denominations.
preachers. A wooden framework that
supported a canvas tent was built, and
benches were hewn from logs. At the
south end of the tent, 13 oak trees
were planted symbolizing Jesus and
the 12 disciples.
One tree, representing Judas, was
separated from the others on the
southeast corner. The Jesus tree was
at the center and was planned so that
the tent rope could be anchored to it.
These trees still stand at the site.
At ﬁrst, bonﬁres and oil lanterns
provided the only light. A Delco generator was tried for a time, but that
ended in 1949 when Central Missouri
Electric Cooperative extended its power lines to the camp meeting, making
possible electric lights and refrigeration for the ﬁrst time.
Camp meeting was traditionally
held the ﬁrst weekend in August.
“Back in the 1800s when the farm
family had planted and harvested the
spring crops but hadn’t started the fall
harvest yet, there was a gap of time,”
says Jason. “The families would stay in
cabins. They would bring a milk cow
and food and stay the entire week.”
Six to eight preachers were usually on hand, and services were held
ﬁve times a day for many years. All
sermons were in German until 1900,
when a single English-speaking
preacher spoke. English became the
only language spoken following backlash against Germans in the wake of
World War I.
The coming of cars also changed
the way the services were held. In the
beginning, men would ride horses
home to care for livestock during the
day, returning at night for services.
As cars became more common, fewer
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2013
Rural Missouri - July 2013
That old-time religion
Out of the Way Eats
Hearth and Home
Keep it cool
On the banks of Bull Shoals
Rural Missouri - July 2013
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