Shingleroof Encampment continues tradition of worship, community
By Jason A. Smith
For Marcella Mote of McDonough, the annual campmeeting at Shingleroof Campground is about more than simply going to church.
“The best way I know how to describe campmeeting is, it is a week-long family reunion and old-time revival combined,” she said.
Mote will be among those in attendance for this year’s encampment, which is scheduled for July 18-24. Services will be held at 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. each day of the event, which will be hosted by McDonough First United Methodist Church.
“It’s just a wonderful time of preaching, good fellowship and gospel music,” said Mote.
Mote has a long history with the campground, which held its first encampment in 1830. She said her grandfather, Silas Greenberry Bryans, helped to build Shingle-roof’s tabernacle, which still stands today.
“I first went in my mother’s womb 90 years ago, and have been going every year since,” said Mote. “My family is related to most all of the tentholder families, by blood or by marriage.”
As she spoke with anticipation of the 2014 Encampment, Mote recalled some of the changes Shingleroof has seen over the years. She said that when she was a child, much of the area was primarily a farming community.
“When I was growing up, there was no electricity, and everybody had to move completely everything that they used,” she said. “Children would go down to the spring and bring water back so they would have water to cook with and to bathe.”
Mote said she is looking forward to continuing her tradition of worship at Shingleroof, including singing out of the same hymnbooks that were used there when she was a child. She said she also hopes to reconnect with old friends and make new ones this year.
Randy Daniel is the chairman of the board of trustees for Shingleroof, and has been affiliated with the campground his whole life. His great-great-great grandfather, Wade Hampton Turner, was one of the original trustees there.
Daniel said he expects a good turnout for the campmeeting again this year.
“I think between the time it starts and the time it ends, there will be about 3,500 different people that will come in and out,” he said. “On Sunday alone, we’ll probably have 1,200 or 1,300.”
Daniel said he appreciates the worship experiences that are a part of services at Shingleroof each year.
“Traditionally we’ve had some of the best preachers in America there,” he said. “I enjoy hearing the good sermons and I just like the atmosphere. And the food’s good.”
Daniel said the campmeeting continues to carry a special meaning for children, who often can be seen wandering the nearly 100 acres of woods on the Shingleroof property.
“If you grew up there as a child, you want your child to enjoy the same experience,” said Daniel. “As a child, you make friends down there, and a lot of them you may not see but once a year.”
Shingleroof Treasurer and trustee Phillip Cook has a lifelong connection to the campground. His great-grandfather, W.A. Ammons, was active in the early days of the facility, and his mother, Frances Smith, will attend her 88th campmeeting there this week.
Cook said Shingleroof provides an opportunity for Christians to get back to their roots.
“We all still need time to revive our spirits, hear the word of God and learn more about Christ,” he said.
Cook said campmeetings of today present a different set of challenges than in the past, such as dealing with warmer temperatures and aging equipment. Still, he said the primary objective has remained the same throughout the years – to provide good worship services at Shingleroof that are based on the Bible.
“The focal point has to be the worship services,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to draw good preachers. With the megachurches that are around, there’s not as many preachers that do campmeetings. We’re trying to do things that will continue to draw the people. It’s not a convenient thing to do, but people tell us that they love being there and will do whatever it takes to be there.”
Cook plans to continue to strengthen his bond with the campground as long as he can. He said he hopes he will live long enough to see Shingleroof’s 200th Encampment in 2030.
“You never know where life’s going to take you or how much time you have on this earth,” said Cook.
The connections people have to Shingleroof stretch far beyond the county line. Mary Jo Hundley will travel from her home in Wilmington, N.C. to take part in this year’s Encampment.
Hundley, originally from McDonough, moved to North Carolina in 1948. She said despite the distance, she has only missed two campmeetings at Shingleroof in her lifetime.
Hundley said the Encampment helps her stay focused spiritually.
“The messages are good,” she said. “You get fellowship with the Lord. When you’re at home, you have so many things to do.”
Hundley said many families have owned cabins at Shingleroof for generations, and that some of those cabins have as many as 100 people sharing a meal together during an Encampment. As for herself, Hundley said nine of her loved ones will be staying with her at the campground.
“The main thing is seeing my friends once a year,” she said. “I just look forward to coming back home.”
Rev. Rick Maeser, the recently appointed senior pastor of the McDonough First United Methodist Church, will be the host pastor for this year’s campmeeting. He said he is looking forward to sharing in the sense of spiritual renewal that Shingleroof represents.
“It’s an opportunity for the community to gather together, and for other denominations to gather together,” said Maeser. “It’s a unique opportunity that is not available in our day in many ways. I’m not sure how the world views campmeetings in our day, but they are still valuable in proclaiming the gospel and reaching people for Christ. That is the tradition of the campmeeting experience, and it will always be an important part of the ministry of Shingleroof and other campmeeting locations.”
Speakers for the Encampment will include: the Rev. Dr. Mel Blackaby, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Jonesboro; the Rev. Dr. Benny Tate, senior pastor of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Ga.; the Rev. Richard Winn, district superintendent for the Griffin District of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church; and the Rev. Dr. Gil Watson, senior pastor of Northside United Methodist Church.
Services will also feature songs by choirs from the First Baptist Church of McDonough, Flippen United Methodist Church, Salem Baptist Church and McDonough Presbyterian Church. The Praise Team from Open Bridge Community Church, the Sound of Victory Trio, the Jonesmen Quartet, and Tim and Matt Wilson will also perform.
Select Services will be broadcast on New Life FM. For more information, visit http://shingleroof.org.
©Henry County Times, Inc.