After a long winter’s nap, the Pleasant Grove Campground has woken up and is returning to life. A new tent is being framed up on the Waxhaw side. Several old, diseased trees have been removed, and several new ones have been planted. Someone has added a nice screened back porch to their tent, and another has added vinyl siding, giving their tent an entirely new look. Lots of work has been going on inside of several tents, and recent work on the well has resulted in the best water supply that we’ve had in years.
The Pleasant Grove church building has been recently scraped and repainted, and it looks great – like a picture postcard. And we hear that there will likely be a new roof on the little church very soon. And the new roof on the arbor, that was shining in the sun like a new penny last year, after a year of weathering, has made itself completely at home and looks as if it could have been there forever.
The campground now has a website at www.pleasantgrovecampground.org, and for those of you on Facebook, there is a campmeeting group with nearly 200 members at Pleasant Grove Campmeeting, Mineral Springs, NC. All of these changes, improvements, and beginnings are signs of health, and we are extremely thankful for each of them. Youth Camp was three weeks ago, Vacation Bible School was two weeks ago, and Campmeeting 2009 is less than two weeks away. Right now, before we get too deep into planning meals, inviting friends, and moving in, is the perfect time to pause for a few minutes and consider what Campmeeting means to us.
I recall when our tent was being built a few years ago, how surprised I was at the number of people who pulled over, rolled down the windows of their cars, and asked what the place was? (And they didn’t all have New York accents either; many of them were local folks.) But when I laid down my hammer, paintbrush, or whatever and walked over to the car to talk, it was their turn to be surprised. They would listen like children as I told about how the folks first came there in 1829 to have a campmeeting, because there wasn’t enough water at the site they had been using, how that first campmeeting was held under a real brush arbor, and the people who came thought the place was so beautiful that they began to call it Pleasant Grove and decided to build a permanent camp there. Their eyes would get wide when I’d tell them that in those early days there would be five services a day and that the last one would sometimes continue until midnight, and their look of surprise would sometimes change to downright disbelief when I’d tell them that those campmeetings lasted for two weeks, that the preachers came in from all around on horseback, and that many of the people brought their livestock along with them.
I’d tell them how there used to be over 200 tents in two rings, but that now there was only one ring with 89 tents, and I’d always end my little seminar by giving them the dates of the upcoming Campmeeting and inviting them to attend. “You know which tent’s ours” I’d say, “and you’re always welcome to stop by and have a piece of cake after the service.”
I suppose that having found something special, it’s natural to want to share it, and that’s the way I feel about the Campmeeting at Pleasant Grove. Oh, by the way, Campmeeting 2009 starts with the 11 o’clock service on Sunday morning, July 19th and goes through the 6:00 PM service on Big Sunday, July 26th. Services will be held each evening through the week at 8:00 PM and Monday through Friday mornings at 10:30 AM. Rev. Rosemary Brown (Sun – Wed) and Rev. Talbot Davis (Thurs – Sat), both of whom are gifted speakers with incredibly strong messages, will be leading the evening services, and the morning services will each feature a different preacher from the surrounding area. You can get additional information about Campmeeting 2009 and see pictures from Campmeeting 2008 at the website mentioned above, so check it out. Pick some services to attend, and come on over. Come early and walk the grounds. Sit in the shade under those ancient oak trees. Visit with your neighbors. Pitch a game of horseshoes if you feel like it or maybe just have a bowl of ice-cream at the stand. Have a great time, but don’t miss the service, for it is there that you will come to understand why the Campmeeting has endured – how it has lasted through wars and depressions and the passing of generations – and how, through it all, that “old, old story” has remained as close and as warm and alive as a hug from a child, a clear summer day, or the next beat of your heart.
Yes, I do love to tell the story. It’s too good not to share, and it’s ‘way too important to miss, so I’ll see you there.