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40 acres of worship

Lumpkin camp meeting a 181-year tradition for Bethel United Methodist Church

POSTED: July 29, 2011 10:59 p.m.

In 1830, a group of 10 men donated $1 each for the purchase of 40 acres of land that would become Lumpkin Campground in Dawson County.

This year marks the 181st consecutive year that camp meeting has been held on those same 40 acres of land.

Descendants of the original families that started the camp meeting still attend the annual gathering every summer. They stay for a week in the small cabins known as tents and worship in the wooden, open-air arbor in the center of the campground, much as their ancestors did in days of old.

The host church for the camp meeting is Bethel United Methodist Church, located on Lumpkin Campground Road across from the campground. Bethel Church grew out of the camp meetings and was originally a log church. After the log church burned, a wood-framed church was built in the middle of what is now the cemetery next to the current church building.

In 1939, the church was moved to its present location and later, the building was bricked and a steeple added. More renovations were made in 1980.

The present Bethel United Methodist Church was built on the same property in 2009. It consists of a multi purpose building with state-of-the-art sound and light. The new building enables the church to host a variety of services and also be available for a many community events.

Even with all the modern additions to the church, worshippers return every year to the simple life of camp meeting.



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