The Pleasant Grove AME Church will celebrate its annual camp meeting Oct. 26-Nov. 2.
The celebration originated in the Strum Bay community near the former town of Willie. The event moved to the Pleasant Grove AME Church at the former village of Taylors Creek in approximately 1919-20.
The only time it was not celebrated was during the period local residents of Taylor’s Creek, Willie, Strum Bay, Steward Town, Cypress Slash and other communities were finding new homes due to the buyout of their properties by the U.S. government to create Fort Stewart (1940-41). Since that time, it has been celebrated on the first Sunday in November at the present church site on Highway 84 in Hinesville.
The Taylors Creek camp meeting was the gathering place for revival and fellowship for local residents, churches, family and friends from surrounding communities including Brunswick and Savannah. The camp meeting at Hinesville took on new meaning, as it now serves as the annual gathering of the African-American residents and descendants of Taylors Creek and surrounding communities and disbanded churches — thus, the adopted theme of “The tie that binds.”
Bethel AME Church, First Calvary Baptist Church, St. Luke Baptist Church, St. Thomas AME Church and St. Peter’s AME Church always have been a part of camp meeting due to church or family affiliations begun at Taylors Creek. Many surrounding churches also have adopted camp meeting since the move to Hinesville.
In 2003, a historical marker was erected by the Liberty County Historical Society to honor the legacy and historical relevance of the church, organized in 1869, and camp-meeting celebration. In 2008, an interpretive marker was erected at the original church site on Fort Stewart designating the former church site as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. In 2013, the church erected a monument to commemorate the lives and contributions of former church members, many of whom are buried in unmarked graves.
The celebration begins Oct. 26 with the congregation dressed for old-fashioned day activities. Revival will be held at 7 nightly Monday-Friday, Oct. 27-31. Closing services will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, with dinner served at 1:30 p.m. in the old-time tradition on the church grounds.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m., and the closing service will be at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.