First glances around Shady Grove.
A United Methodist Campground.
First glances around Shady Grove.
A United Methodist Campground.
At a Methodist Campground, a location for community revival meetings, the cabins are referred to as tents.
The Israelites erected 99 tents around their Tabernacle in Leviticus (pretty sure that’s the chapter) which is the exact design here. These 99 tents/cabins surround the Tabernacle in the center of the open field.
Photographs taken outside St. George, South Carolina.
This tabernacle is surrounded by 99 ‘tents’, old cabins really, and is used for revival style Methodist Church meetings once a year. Camp meetings at Indian Field started in 1801, down the road, and moved here in 1838. A revival has been held here every year since.
Note; there are several camps around South Carolina, we have previously published articles on a few including this one.
Very often the early “fire and brimstone” sermons would bring in more people than a house or a church building could handle. This tabernacle can seat about 1,000 people.
The layout of Indian Fields is based on the biblical story of the Israelites erecting tents, representing the tribes of Israel, encircling a tabernacle. Electricity has been added as well as basic well water.
It’s best described as an adventure to experience and photograph all this history.
Click any image to view a full size image.
Recently we stopped by the grounds of the Cypress Methodist Camp. We were passing and looked to see if the wildflowers had taken the meadow over. We missed it.
I did get to shoot a wide image capturing both the tabernacle and camps.
As a review; this site was started in 1794, traveling preachers held week long meetings in rural locations like this. Campsites such as this one formed because worshipers would stay in tents for days to experience the revitalizing preaching while also enjoying a sense of community. Hence the name ‘revival meetings’.
The wooden cabins are still called tents and some are hundreds years old.
Each year, in September, a week long camp meeting continues the tradition.
There are several campgrounds like this still active in South Carolina.
Cypress Camp Ground was functional as early as 1794, and an adjacent cemetery contains graves from the early 1800s. The campground is in the general shape of a rectangle of 34 tents, or cabins, made of rough-hewn lumber. These cabins, rectangular shaped, are generally 1 1/2-stories and contain earthen floors.
The ‘tents’ here form a rectangle around the open tabernacle where services and meetings are held. The image above is from inside a ‘tent’ looking out into the central square.
Notice the original old wooden pew, hand hewn post/beams and wrought iron ladder in the wall.
It’s important the buildings maintain their original structure. Inside most beams, walls, and even nails and hinges are original.
We were invited to visit and view the original structure, building history, even when and where repairs were made. Some of the old beams and poles were several hundred years old.
In the kitchen area I noticed an antique dealers dream, the old flour cupboard still in use.
Meetings are held in the fall here making a wood stove important in the main room. Maybe 100 years ago this could have been skipped, now everybody leaves here and goes home to a heated house after the week long meetings.
Sleeping quarters are upstairs, this is a 1 1/2 story building. There is room in the attic area to accommodate sleeping quarters.
I had not seen a dust shield like above in many years. This even looked to be original type canvas. Boots climbing the stairs shake dust down on the tables below. The stairs have cloth tied under to catch dust and straw.
Visiting inside here, and the sanctuary, was an unexpected treat and we appreciate the hospitality of the Cypress Methodist community.
In the Lowcountry the 1700’s to the 1800’s were the time of rich plantation owners, huge plantations, slavery, and war.
Often forgotten were the rural farmers working to survive. The Camp Grounds around Methodist Churches was all about bring them together in a single location.
As it was explained to us, there is a lot of history here, but little written or saved. It has been handed down through the years.
Traveling preachers came through for the meetings, people first gathered in tents, then cabins were built when the meetings took on a more permanent nature.
These are some of those cabins. This meeting ground serves 4 local communities, and has since the 1780’s. Many of these ‘tents’ are the original, repairs are made but the rule is simple and tents are based on the first ones built.
Over time electricity was brought in, water and ‘necessities’ are still out back.
The tents here are in a rectangle all facing the open sided Tabernacle. Other remaining camps in the south are similar. I was once told there is a description of settlements in the old testament of the Bible which some have followed.
The cabins are owned by families in the area, many passed down through generations.
Meetings are held once a year in the fall. They are approximately a week long.
We appreciate the hospitality of Cypress Methodist for allowing us to visit and photograph the grounds and Church.
This is a multi part article, the subject and photographs are too large not to be.
In the late 1700’s, after the US revolutionary war, traveling preachers ‘rode the circuit’ visiting rural communities. They have been called revivals or camp meetings.
These were rural communities where record keeping was secondary to survival. History has been passed between the generations. Recently we were fortunate to have revisited with the current church, which still maintains a yearly camp meeting.
There are several other functioning camp meetings in South Carolina. Other articles, and camps, are on this web site.
At center of a camp ground is the Tabernacle, an open sided building for services and meetings. In a square, or rectangle, around the Tabernacle are the ‘tents’ or cabins where members stay for the time of the meetings. here a week a year.
The Tabernacle and Tents are rustic and by design little changed from the original structure. Families have owned their tents for generations. While some have been damaged and rebuilt, others are originals dating back over 200 years.
Above is both the Tabernacle and some of the Tents.
The inside of the Tabernacle is filled with wooden pews and a straw floor. Electricity has been added at some time.
The roof is a more modern tin, or metal.
The pulpit is a simple raised brick floor.
Above is the Tabernacle seen from inside the doorway of a Tent.
Additional articles will be published documenting the Tents, inside and out, as well as the Church that owns the camp grounds and was gracious enough to allow us this visit.
These are several of the ‘Tents’, cabins, within a Methodist campground. They are individually owned and passed down through the generations. Several here are hundreds of years old.
They are repaired, changed a little inside, but nothing major is added / removed. Even hinges on doors may be the original hand wrought iron fixtures. Beams are the old hand cut trees.
Electricity has been added over the years, water is still from a shared central hand pump.
Meetings, like old traveling preachers days, are yearly.