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Camp meetings continue at St. Peter's

POSTED: October 19, 2009 12:06 p.m.
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The Rev. Henry Frasier, a retired district overseer, sits in on a service.

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St. Peter’s AME Church next weekend will continue a tradition that started around the time of the Civil War.
Camp meeting services will be Thursday, Friday and Sunday at the church on Highway 84 in the McIntosh community.
Back when they started in the church that was then called Hutchinson Station services would run two weeks, according to member Bertha Windom. It would attract people from as far away as South Carolina, but even those coming from closer often camped to be part of a community, she said.
“It was a gathering place where a few people congregated in different places to set up camps for worship, as well as the place of gaining information in the lives of African-Americans, a center for education and bridge between slaves and freed men,” Windom said.
Worship facilities were normally bush arbors with poles secured in the ground and clapboards and bushes serving as the roof. Kerosene lanterns lit the arbors and camps.
The arbors gave way to tents and even though St. Peter’s now has a modern, brick sanctuary, meetings are still in tents.
Members who have worshiped at St. Peter’s camp for years include the Rev. Ollie Howard, former minister at St. Peter’s, Henry Singleton Jr. and Lola Dixon, the first black licensed nurse in the county.
Windom said the church continues to make strides through the leadership of the Rev. Debbie Grant-Neal, present pastor, who has continued the annual experience. She is the first female pastor of St. Peter’s, wife of Rev. R. Nathaniel Neal, who is elder of the West Savannah District.
Everyone is welcome at the services. The church is at 5394 E. Oglethorpe Hwy. Participants can dress in old-fashioned attire. Services will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 and 23 and closing out at 3 p.m. Oct. 25.

 

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