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SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2007
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Rob Cain, Hartselle Camp Meeting Association president, heads toward the former girls dorm, which is being renovated into a youth activities facility at Hartselle Tabernacle Camp Grounds. The association plans to construct a youth dorm by summer 2008, Cain said. The dorm will house up to 80 for sleeping and seat about 100 for meetings, he said.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Rob Cain, Hartselle Camp Meeting Association president, heads toward the former girls dorm, which is being renovated into a youth activities facility at Hartselle Tabernacle Camp Grounds. The association plans to construct a youth dorm by summer 2008, Cain said. The dorm will house up to 80 for sleeping and seat about 100 for meetings, he said.

Old tradition,
fresh vision

Hartselle Camp Meeting to welcome actor Dean Jones as it moves to earlier dates, renovates facilities

By Melanie B. Smith
msmith@decaturdaily.com 340-2468

Sawdust will soon cover the dirt under the century-old cedar tabernacle in Hartselle.

Cooks will create menus that typically feature Southern favorites like fried chicken and banana pudding.

Volunteers will do final grounds cleanup.

The Hartselle Camp Meeting will go on as it has for more than a century, but not everything will be the same.

This year the camp will be earlier, June instead of late July or early August.

The reason, according to Camp Meeting Association president the Rev. Rob Cain, is to escape some of the summer heat. He said planners originally chose the time because Hartselle was a farming community, and by late July, farmers had their crops in the ground and could get away. Now schedules don't have to work around farming.

"We think it will be cooler, temperaturewise, and less hectic, since it won't be just before school starts," Cain said.

The camp will be eight days, June 22-29, at the property on Tabernacle Road. Daily services will be at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., with several special guest speakers joining the camp preachers.

The dates aren't the only switch. Cain became president last summer after the former president was arrested and later convicted of indecent exposure by a federal jury.

Cain said the organization can do nothing about the past. Leaders are focusing on reaching people for Christ, he said.

"We've got to get back to Christ," said Cain, who is senior pastor of The Lighthouse in Tuscaloosa.

Board members are enthusiastic, he said, and 20 volunteers worked during a recent Saturday at the site.

"I think the camp's future is better than ever," Cain said.

Dean Jones

In looking forward, camp planners aren't forgetting its heritage. Actor and speaker Dean Jones of Tarzana, Calif., a Decatur native who attended the camp growing up, will speak June 24 at 7:30 p.m. Jones is known for such films as "The Love Bug" and "Other People's Money."

Jones has local relatives who have been long-time camp supporters. Leaders will dedicate the new camp dining hall to Jones' uncle, the late Gerald Waits, Cain said.

"As a boy, there were innumerable times under the canopy of the Hartselle Camp Meeting when I felt the presence, power and love of almighty God," Jones wrote for the camp's Web site. "My hope today is that the great tradition of the saints who preceded us will be extended to a new generation empowered to serve the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit and in truth."

Debt paid

An ongoing effort is resulting in some new and remodeled facilities. Cain said donations have paid off the $500,000 dining hall constructed several years ago. The air-conditioned building with a modern kitchen is part of several updates to make the camp more usable year-round, planners said.

The association plans to construct a youth dorm by summer 2008, Cain said. The dorm will house up to 80 for sleeping and seat about 100 for meetings, he said. The old boys dorm, which was in disrepair, has been torn down to make room for the new building.

All but 12 of the 52 cabins formerly on the grounds have been sold, Cain said. Four of the remaining ones have been renovated to add bathrooms, air conditioning and insulated walls, he said. The association needs volunteers to renovate the other eight, Cain said.

"The board's vision is to use the camp year-round," he said. "We have plenty of room to grow with 11 acres of land and a vision for the future."

Several times a month groups are using the dining hall for church picnics, weddings and other events, Cain said.

Preachers, speakers

The Rev. Paul Lawler, senior pastor of Chase Valley United Methodist Church in Huntsville, and the Rev. Tom Tanner, senior pastor of RiverStone Church in Marietta, Ga., will be the main speakers for this year's camp. Lee and Gracie Murphree of Honduras will be camp missionaries, and Missy Lawler of Chase Valley will be the children's worker.

The Rev. Junior Hill of Hartselle, an evangelist and former first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be the guest speaker June 27 at 7:30 p.m.

Guests will also lead morning prayer meetings at 9. These will include the Rev. Phil Waldrep of Decatur, an evangelist and conference leader, and the Rev. George Sawyer, pastor of Calvary Assembly of God Church.

Cain said the involvement of pastors from varied churches is an effort to be more interdenominational. The camp meeting movement came out of a mostly Methodist "holiness" movement in the 1800s.

Pastor recognition day will be June 25 at 10:30 a.m., and lunch for them will be free.

No overnight lodging will be at the camp this year, but children and teens will find a schedule of activities for them for only the cost of meals, $8 a day for children in grades one through six and $13 for older youths.

For more information, call Cain at (205) 556-0291.

Other officers are Ron Puckett, first vice president; Judge Glenn Thompson, second vice president; Jimmy Yarbrough, treasurer; and Pat Houston, secretary.

On the Net

www.hartsellecampmeeting.com

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