At Salem, stand­ing on holy ground

The Covington News - - OPINION -

When Pat Ca­vanaugh asked me to write a col­umn about Salem Camp Meet­ing, I should have said that it would be eas­ier to write a book than a col­umn about this place which means so much to me.

Salem Camp Meet­ing this year be­gins on Fri­day night, July 12, at 7:45 p.m., and con­tinue through Fri­day, July 19. This will be the 185th time that this week of meet­ings has been held, start­ing back in 1828. I have had the priv­i­lege to at­tend 74 of th­ese an­nual events, never miss­ing a year so far in my life.

My great-great grand­fa­ther Ge­orge Cunningham, was one of the founders of the Salem Camp Meet­ing. He served on the first grand jury in New­ton County, and his son Ge­orge Cunningham Jr., was the first child born in the then newly-in­cor­po­rated county.

The Cunningham-Ram­sey tent (cabin) at Salem Camp Ground was built in 1840, of hand-hewn tim­bers. Our orig­i­nal fam­ily din­ing ta­ble has been used by each suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tion, and we still use it to­day.

The Gospel of Christ has been pre­sented from the Salem pul­pit by Amer­ica’s great preach­ers of the Methodist, Bap­tist and Pres­by­te­rian churches. This year, on Sun­day, July 14, at 10:45 a.m., Bishop Mike Wat­son, bishop of the United Methodist Church North Ge­or­gia Con­fer­ence, chair­man of the Com­mit­tee on Evan­ge­lism of the World Methodist Coun­cil, and pres­i­dent of World Methodist Evan­ge­lism, will be preach­ing from the his­toric Salem pul­pit. Ev­ery bishop in the his­tory of the North Ge­or­gia Con­fer­ence has preached at Salem Camp Meet­ing, and Bishop Wat­son will con­tinue this long­stand­ing tra­di­tion.

Some­times peo­ple ask me why I am so com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing and pro­mot­ing Salem Camp Meet­ing. The rea­son is that I have seen so many good things come from the meet­ings.

For ex­am­ple, in the last 25 years, 17 young peo­ple have ded­i­cated their lives to full-time Chris­tian ser­vice as pas­tors of churches and ca­reer mis­sion­ar­ies as a re­sult of at­tend­ing Salem Camp Meet­ing. The lives of count­less peo­ple have been changed at the Salem taber­na­cle al­tar, and gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple have been in­spired to greater ser­vice in the spread­ing of the Gospel of Christ through­out the world.

My fa­ther C.D. Ram­sey Jr., was pro­gram chair­man of the Salem Board of Trus­tees for many years, and I have fol­lowed him in that po­si­tion, serv­ing since 1964. I have ben­e­fited per­son­ally from get­ting to know more than 100 of the finest preach­ers in the world, as they have come to preach at Salem Camp Meet­ing.

This year will be no ex­cep­tion, as Dr. Bill Bouknight, who served the Christ United Methodist Church in Mem­phis, Tenn., comes to preach. While he was a pas­tor, more than 4,000 new mem­bers joined the church, with one third of them com­ing by their pro­fes­sion of faith in Je­sus Christ. Also preach­ing will be the Rev. John Dees, pas­tor of the Cross Point Bap­tist Church of Madi­son, Ala., and fa­ther of the Rev. Ja­son Dees, who served First Bap­tist Church of Cov­ing­ton for more than five years.

Mr. Thomas Roberts will serve as song leader this year, lead­ing great singing. Alice Walker and Becky Ram­sey will play grand pi­anos for the 43rd year and will make avail­able to the pub­lic their new CD, en­ti­tled “Stand­ing on Holy Ground.” All pro­ceeds from the sale of the CDs will sup­port Salem Camp Meet­ing.

In ad­di­tion, as I write about Salem, I re­al­ize that I have for­got­ten to men­tion one of my great­est Salem bless­ings: I met my wife Becky, at Salem Camp Meet­ing. She grew up in At­lanta and had never heard of Salem. How­ever, when she and her fam­ily at­tended a ser­vice at Salem, she loved it.

We met that same night, and she has been an en­thu­si­as­tic Salem sup­porter ever since.

Becky in­tro­duced her whole fam­ily to Salem, and they reg­u­larly at­tend Salem each year. She loves Salem as much as I do.

For more Salem in­for­ma­tion, please visit salem­camp­meet­ing.org.

See you at Salem! Ev­ery­one is in­vited. To­day’s world needs the Gospel of Christ more than ever be­fore. Please come to wor­ship, and you will find the “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” at Salem Camp Meet­ing.

SAM RAM­SEY GUEST COLUM­NIST

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