A tradition 129 years strong has returned to Butts County.
The Indian Springs Holiness Camp Meeting began July 11 and will continue until July 21 at the campground just outside Flovilla.
With multiple services each day, Bible study, youth activities and other events, the camp attracts generations of worshippers from across the country. An independent, non-denominational organization, the camp meeting also welcomes local residents from Butts and surrounding counties.
Guest speakers and missionaries this year include evangelists Chris Bounds, Timothy Tennent and Dave Ward, and Bible teacher Joe Dongell.
The camp was begun in 1890 by a group of four Methodist ministers. Around the turn of the century, the main tabernacle was constructed and remains in use today. Over the years, cabins, dormitories, an RV park and other accommodations have been added to the grounds.
“I came the year my mom and dad adopted me — so 65 years ago,” said Ramona Cathey of Atlanta. “Everybody has something in common — the love of God and family.”
According to Matthew Gambill, a member of the camp’s board of trustees and a spokesman for the camp, the first weekend of the 10-day camp is usually the most attended.
“Every year, it’s usually somewhere around 5,000 that come through the gate at some point in the 10-day time,” he said.
In years past, the camp was held in August, once the fields had been planted and the mostly agrarian population awaited the harvest. Gambill said as ways of life have changed in recent decades, the camp was moved back to July to accommodate school and vacation schedules.
Rob Roy MacGregor, also a member of the camp’s board of trustees, said it’s the message of the camp that keeps the faithful coming back.
“I think it’s the message that’s proclaimed. It’s an ongoing message that’s the truth, and I think people come back because they know it’s the real truth,” he said.
Camper David Thome, 38, said he’s been coming “my whole life.”
“Family, fellowship and the doctrine that’s preached here is something I believe in very strongly,” he said.