Submitted photo | Tommy Nichols The annual Blue Ridge Baptist Camp Meeting held in Mount Airy continues to draw large crowds as it looks to its 50th anniversary this year.
Submitted photo | Tommy Nichols The overflowing amount of vehicles in the parking lot of the Blue Ridge Baptist Camp Meeting attest to the appeal of old fashioned, traditional services.
Local Christians seeking to jump start feeling their faith anew through an old-fashioned camp meeting will have their chance as the Blue Ridge Baptist Camp Meeting marks its 50th anniversary June 1.
Organizers attribute the long-lived event to remaining true to its beginning.
The meeting’s first week of worship is set for June 1 through June 5 featuring James Knox. The second week is slated for June 8 through June 12 and will feature one of the original evangelists of the event, Rayton Puckett. Services are set to begin at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Tommy Nichols will serve as the moderator for the meetings. The Camp Meeting Choir, special singing and many other Christian performers will be featured.
The meeting will be held at 2049 Caudle Drive in Mount Airy. Person’s may call 336-789-0824 for information on the services. Nichols estimated more than 20 churches will be involved in the event this year. Puckett, who served as the first moderator for the meeting explained that it began from regular meetings a group of ministers held weekly in a cabin.
One participant suggested the meeting might reach even more participants if it was held in a tent and not in a church. Puckett said the group first used a tent provided by White Plains Baptist church with the event expanding to another tend and then to the tents and additional pews set up outside.
Preachers involved in the early years of the meeting included Gene Brinkley of Sulphur Springs Baptist in Pilot Mountain, Arthur Dawson of Emmanuel Baptist, Harmon Heath of Indian Grove Baptist church, Paul Key of Jessup Grove Baptist, Carl Lakey of White Plains Baptist, A.G. Wall of Northside Baptist, Lee Meadows of Midway Baptist and Ervin Gallimore of Skyline Baptist in Fancy Gap, Virginia. The Gospel Mission Baptist Church of White Plains was also involved early on. The first preacher for the meeting was Arthur Blackman of High Point.
Nichols and Puckett said the meeting was noted for overflowing crowds from the beginning. Puckett’s tour at the helm during the second week will mark his seventh time featured at the meeting. The services regularly feature a meeting choir with 75 to 90 persons performing. Nichols said the lowest night of attendance last year was around 300.
“We’d love for everybody to come. People just love it. I usually get there at 6:15 to start setting things up and their are cars there with people waiting to get in. They like to fellowship before the service,” Nichols said. “Often they may not get to see each other till next year. We have people bring their own chairs. They just eat it up. We have natural air conditioning with ceiling fans in the current open air building we have for the meeting. We’ve always been so fortunate to have a small shower or a cool breeze whenever it gets hot.”
Nichols speculated what continues to draw more persons to the meeting is there is nothing modern in the informal services which can feature multiple preachers every night.
“It’s about lifting up the Lord. It’s about everyone working together and lifting up the Lord,” said Nichols. “I tell everyone if you’ll come, you’ll like it. We are there to help each other out. When it’s over, they wish it was another week.”
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