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It's camp meeting time again
EA CampMeeting
The past revisited: These are members who relocated from the Fort Stewart reservation area when the government bought their property. The photo was taken during a church historical marker dedication. - photo by Photo provided.
Summer is slowly turning into autumn and with the advent of the season, many people in Liberty County recall the annual Camp Meeting celebrations. Weeks before the start of the celebrations, people would talk about this event and who was preaching at the Camp Meeting that particular year.
Pleasant Grove African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church is the location of the largest Camp Meeting celebration in Liberty County.
The Pleasant Grove Camp Meeting celebration was originally hosted at the Willie AME Church in Strum Bay/Stewart Town, Georgia. But it was moved to Pleasant Grove in 1919-1920. Camp Meeting is hailed as one of Liberty County’s oldest religious celebrations.
“Camp Meeting is recognized as the sole annual event reuniting former African American families of Taylors Creek, Willie, Strum Bay, Stewart Town, Greasy Town, Tom’s Creek, Sugar Pond, Thomas Hill, Mill Pond, Futch Town, King Town, Cypress Slash, Red Bluff, Possum Trot, and other communities,” Donald Lovette said.
Lovette is a member of Pleasant Grove and serves on various committees in the church. He also represents District 2 on the Liberty County Board of Commissioners.
“Camp Meeting took on new meaning for those persons who could not return home,” he said.
Pleasant Grove AME was organized on June 29, 1869 at Taylors Creek. The founder and first pastor was the Rev. Piner Martin, a local community leader.
“The members worshiped in a small frame house. The first church was called the African Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Later, the growing membership purchased 16.6 acres of land and built a larger church,” Lovette said.
According to the church’s historical records, members used hand tools to cut logs and shingles. Oxen were used to haul materials to the new church site. Once completed, this church was named Pleasant Grove African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In later years the members built a school, parsonage and established a cemetery to complete the church campus.
“The United States government purchased the original church site to establish the Camp Stewart military reservation. In 1941 the church was paid $1,600 for the church property and buildings. A large number of the members settled in the Hinesville, Allenhurst, and Walthourville area,” Lovette noted.
Church services were held in various homes and schools. In 1943, through the efforts of Pastor Garfield Jackson and various building committee members, a new church was built on state Highway 38 near Allenhurst.
Former members and those of now disbanded churches from the Taylors Creek area came together as one.
“Celebrated on the first Sunday in November, Camp Meeting remains a glorious time of spiritual renewal, food, fun and fellowship,” Lovette said.
For those residents of old Taylors Creek, Camp Meeting is the closest thing to “back home.” It is the “tie that binds.”
This year’s celebration promises to be another high time of good singing, preaching, teaching, shouting, fellowshipping, and renewal of ties.

The celebration will begin on 7 this evening, with an Old Time Gospel Fest (A Suitable Tune). It will honor the Rev. B. T. Smith, one of the fathers in the ministry in Liberty County.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, the church will celebrate Old Fashion Day, with the Rev. Wanda Henry of Pleasant Grove AME Church as the proclaimer of the Gospel. Members will adorn themselves in their favorite old fashioned attires.
At 5 p.m., the official kick-off service will take place with the Rev. Franklin Mincey of Bennett Union Baptist Church in Jesup.
Services will continue at 7 p.m., Oct. 29-Nov. 2.
On Monday night, Pastor Kevin L. Betton Sr., Temple of Praise Ministries, Hinesville, will deliver the message.  
Pastor Frank Jones, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Walthourville, will bring the message on Tuesday night.
On Wednesday night, Pastor James Frasier, Community Baptist Church, Midway, and his congregation will be in charge of the service.  
Pastor James Evans, St. James Missionary Baptist Church, Ludowici, is the proclaimer for Thursday night and Pastor Hermon Scott of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church, Allenhurst, will deliver the message next Friday night.
Camp Meeting 2007 celebrations will culminate Nov. 4.  
Pastor John E. Morse Jr., pastor of Pleasant Grove AME Church will deliver the camp meeting message at 10 a.m.  \Following the morning service, dinner will be served on the grounds of the church.
At 3 p.m., a memorial/devotional will be conducted.  
The final service is at 3:30 p.m, with Pastor C. L. Anderson, Good Shepherd Missionary Baptist Church, Walthourville.
Pastor Morse and the Pleasant Grove AME Church Family invite the public to come and celebrate Camp Meeting 2007 with them.
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