A Newton County tradition that goes back almost 200 years returns this week.
The Salem Camp Meeting runs from July 8 through 15 at the Salem Camp Ground, located at 3940 Salem Road.
The camp meeting is in its 188th iteration, and this year figures to be one of its best according to camp program chair Sam Ramsey.
“I’m very excited about it because the two preachers we have coming are as good as you can get,” Ramsey said.
The featured preachers will be Dr. Bill Burch, Senior Pastor of Lawrenceville first United Methodist Church and Dr. William Carl, III, Senior Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
Burch, ordained in 1984, has served seven United Methodist Churches in the North Georgia regional body. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts from Berry College, a Masters of Divinity form the Candler School of Theology of Emory University and a Doctorate of Ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary at the University of Chicago.
Carl, before going to Independent Presbyterian Church, served as President of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for 10 years. He graduated from the University of Tulsa and earned his Master of Divinity from Louisville Seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Rhetoric and Communication. Carl has authored eight books and more than 75 articles in national journals.
This is Carl’s third time preaching at Salem, after appearing in 1988 and 2002.
“He’s just a peach of a fella,” Ramsey said.
Also appearing at Salem this year is rev. Dr. Case Thorp, Senior Associate Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, and camp meeting regulars Rev. Jonathan Anderson, Rev. Andrew Covington, Alice Walker and Becky Ramsey and Thomas Roberts.
Other features of the camp meeting will be the Covington Bethlehem Baptist Church Choir appearing Friday night, the honoring of Rev. Hezekiah Benton, the choir from Decatur Presbyterian Church and a 7-year-old violinist.
Carl, Burch and Thorp are just three of the hundreds of preachers to educate and enlighten the campers at Salem throughout the 52 years Ramsey has been program chair. The camp meeting, however goes back even further than that with numerous other preachers coming to Newton County.
Ramsey is a sixth generation member of the Salem Camp meeting, whose ancestor George Cunningham was the first recorded child born in Newton County in 1821. His family has had a strong presence at the Salem Camp Meeting ever since.
The 2016 meeting kicks off Friday, July 8 with Supper at the Salem Hotel, followed by Walker and Becky Ramsey playing grand pianos and Burch preaching.
The camp meeting runs through Friday, July 15 with Burch preaching, the Bethlehem Baptist Church Choir performing and a candlelight closing service at 9:30 p.m.
For full schedule click here.