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History runs deep with campmeetings

 

By Alex Welch
Assistant Editor   

  The origins of Henry County date back to 1821, which makes Shingleroof Campground one of the oldest traditions this area has to offer. Shingleroof received its charter for campmeetings in 1831, and it has been holding the annual event ever since.

The congregation at Shingleroof Campground gathers for one of the services. Last year’s campmeeting drew in crowds of thousands of people.                                        Special photo

  This year’s campmeeting marks the 183rd edition. Randy Daniel, the chairman of Shingleroof’s board of trustees, said the campmeetings actually started prior to the charter in the late 1820s. It began as a weeklong religious revival and a chance to socialize for the Henry County area, a region that was sparsely populated at the time. Daniel said the date of the meeting was selected based on the county’s focus on agriculture.

  “The meetings were determined by the agrarian economy,” said Daniel. “Right before the cotton was about to be picked, it was a time on the farm that was somewhat not as busy as other times during the year.”

  Shingleroof acquired its name from the one of the first campmeetings it ever held. Daniel said the tents set up back then had roofs made of shingles. Those at the campground would cut down timber and make the shingles on site. Daniel said the campground was still providing shingle roofs well into the 1900s.

  Daniel said the campmeetings were “very much a part of the religious and social fabric of this county.” Shingleroof has endured plenty of major events throughout the course of its history. Daniel said Confederate soldiers met here prior to going off to fight during the Civil War. He also said the campmeetings always remained integrated, even through the days of Jim Crow laws. 

  Today, the campmeetings are different in terms of their services and utilities available, like air-conditioned dining halls, but the tradition is still present. Visitors continue to come from the far corners of the U.S. to attend.

  “There are people that come here from all over. Sometimes people will come from as far as Maine and California,” said Daniel.

  Throughout the week, Shingleroof will see guests constantly come and go. Some people stay for the entire meeting, and some visit to hear particular speakers or musicians.

  “There will be a few thousand that will filter in throughout the week. Typically you’ll have a different crowd come in depending on what’s going on. A lot of attendance is driven by either who’s speaking or who’s singing,” said Daniel.

  The week is filled with different sermons and musical performances, but there are also plenty of activities for the kids to take part in. Daniel said there’s a 5K run held Saturday morning. The kids have a water balloon fight every year, and they also play softball and volleyball throughout the week. He said the youngest children usually enjoy painting T-shirts, another activity they do every year.

 The 183rd campmeeting runs from July 19-25. Interdenominational services are held each day at 11 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. starting Friday night. For more information and the schedule for this year, visit Shingleroof.org.

 

 

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