That old-time tent revival

Posted by | July 6, 2016

It’s tent revival season throughout Appalachia – the region that invented the tent revival.

The first camp meeting took place in July 1800 at Gasper River Church in southwestern Kentucky. A much larger one was held at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in August 1801, where between 10,000 and 25,000 people attended, and Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist ministers participated. It was this event that stamped the organized revival as the major mode of church expansion for denominations such as the Methodists and Baptists, who were newly converted by the teachings of John Wesley.

“The significant and most recurring theme in mountain preaching,” according to Deborah McCauley, author of Appalachian Mountain Religion, “is that of a broken heart, tenderness of heart, a heart not hardened to the Spirit and the Word of God. Mountain people teach through their churches that the image of God in each person lives in the heart, that the Word of God lodges itself in the heart, and the heart is meant to guide the head, not the other way around.”

Elkridge WV Tent Revival 1930s
“God led me into the Free Methodist Church when in 1935 I was sanctified in a revival preached by Brother Albert Faust from Pittsburgh,” said West Virginian Dewilla Lemmon of her revival experiences. “Melrose Uphold, a neighbor, and Sister Eva Young, a local Free Methodist preacher, arranged for a meeting in a vacant building near my home. This came as an answer to prayer for me because I had been privately seeking holiness, not really knowing what it was, only that for many months I had craved a pure, perfect condition of heart with God, notwithstanding the knowledge that I had been born again.”

One of Lemmon’s fellow worshipers, “Sister Uphold,” explained to her that the experience she sought was “sanctification.” “So I went to the altar and prayed for it. I also made various restitutions. Brother Faust quoted the Scripture: ‘The Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple.’ And Jesus did just that for me on the night of September 22, 1935 after Brother Faust had delivered his sermon and while Sister Young walked up and down behind me at the altar quoting in a strong voice: ‘This is the will of God, even your sanctification.’”

Lemmon, Dewilla. “Camp Memories” journal exercise recorded by Pauline Shahan. July 6, 1980
Appalachian Mountain Religion. University of Illinois Press: Chicago; 1995

Related Posts: “Warmly Tactile Worship Behavior”

tent+revival camp+meeting mountain+preaching appalachia appalachian+culture appalachian+history history+of+appalachia

5 Responses

  • Don Brewer says:

    We are planning an Old Time Tent Revival in the Catskill Mountains of New York and would very much like some pointers. We are looking forward to these mountain communities to turn toward the Lord and to see our depleted churches filled.

  • Mark Fisher says:

    God is calling me and my wife to start tent revival meetings early 2016 in our community by faith. We are believing God for revival to begin in the hearts of people in our community and expand to the nations! I believe revival starts with you and me first,we are ”the church” the body of Christ! As me and my wife step into Gods vision and purpose stand with us in prayer you who read this blog,for a date and provision from God to begin our revival meetings ! We are believing for the greatest outpouring of the Lords spirit we have ever seen ! Thank you and god bless you all who stand in the gap for our ministry and may god give you a double portion for obedience Glory to God !! I’m so excited for our new season !

  • Deputy Marty Breeden says:

    I’m currently a Law Enforcement Officer and I am a full time Deputy with the Page County Sheriffs office. I was raised here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I long to see God move in this valley and these mountains. I preach now and share in churches with music and word quite often. My wife and daughter and I have seen the Lord move, but have yet to witness what we truly believe is coming.
    I currently live in Mount Jackson. Please pray that God will move and move me as well. I know it’s coming, and I want to be a part of it!!!

  • […] and musical collage”–set in 1959–we are privy to an Appalachian hamlet’s annual tent revival. The subtle whisperings, eye rolls, and weeping from church pews are typically visible only to […]

  • angel andrade says:

    2017 It time for a revival at grass roots across America. God is calling all Christians to move in the Spirit of God and share the word and inspire those who are lost and searching. To refresh those who are weary and need courage to move forward and prepare the way for our Lord to receive those waiting for his children (representatives) to be bold and step up. It takes the will of God and the planning of heartfelt christians coming together in HIS name to give the word to the world.
    I have been in those tent meetings and the Holy Spirit is happy and able to bring souls home.

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