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The Cripple Creek Camp Meeting

Discussion in 'Christian Spirituality Forum' started by rockytopva, Oct 19, 2018.

  1. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    The Cripple Creek Camp meeting, as told by George Clark Rankin and David Sullins....

    The Life of David Sullins
    The Life of George Clark Rankin

    Here are some of the rules to govern the Cripple Creek Camp meeting around 1823....
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    The document above contains the rules to governthe Cripple Creek camp meeting on the 12th day of September, 1823.

    On the ninth rule it is stated, “No persons or persons are to occupy the stand except the preachers and the exhorters.” The Methodist in those days had a class of minister called exhorters. These so called “Exhorters” would encourage and help breathe life into the camp meeting of the day. And what importance they put on exhortation as the exhorter class had a place with the preachers and evangelists!

    On the fourteenth rule it is stated that females sit on the left hand from the stand and the males on the right. This was stated also in David Sullins time as a way to keep order in the service.

    Pictured below is Robert Sheffey, who was more of the exhorter than the preacher. It was said of him in The Life of George Clark Rankin and beginning on page 239...

    I passed my examinations and that year I was sent to the Wytheville Station and Circuit. That was adjoining my former charge. We reached the old parsonage on the pike just out of Wytheville as Rev. B. W. S. Bishop moved out. Charley Bishop was then a little tow-headed boy. He is now the learned Regent of Southwestern University. The parsonage was an old two-and-a-half-story structure with nine rooms and it looked a little like Hawthorne's house with the seven gables. It was the lonesomest-looking old house I ever saw. There was no one there to meet us, for we had not notified anybody of the time we would arrive.

    Think of taking a young bride to that sort of a mansion! But she was brave and showed no sign of disappointment. That first night we felt like two whortleberries in a Virginia tobacco wagonbed. We had room and to spare, but it was scantily furnished with specimens as antique as those in Noah's ark. But in a week or so we were invited out to spend the day with a good family, and when we went back we found the doors fastened just as we had left them, but when we entered a bedroom was elegantly furnished with everything modern and the parlor was in fine shape. The ladies had been there and done the work. How much does the preacher owe to the good women of the Church!

    The circuit was a large one, comprising seventeen appointments. They were practically scattered all over the county. I preached every other day, and never less than twice and generally three times on Sunday.

    I had associated with me that year a young collegemate, Rev. W. B. Stradley. He was a bright, popular fellow, and we managed to give Wytheville regular Sunday preaching. Stradley became a great preacher and died a few years ago while pastor of Trinity Church, Atlanta, Georgia. We were true yokefellows and did a great work on that charge, held fine revivals and had large ingatherings.

    The famous Cripple Creek Campground was on that work. They have kept up campmeetings there for more than a hundred years. It is still the great rallying point for the Methodists of all that section. I have never heard such singing and preaching and shouting anywhere else in my life. I met the Rev. John Boring there and heard him preach. He was a well-known preacher in the conference; original, peculiar, strikingly odd, but a great revival preacher.

    One morning in the beginning of the service he was to preach and he called the people to prayer. He prayed loud and long and told the Lord just what sort of a meeting we were expecting and really exhorted the people as to their conduct on the grounds. Among other things, he said we wanted no horse- trading and then related that just before kneeling he had seen a man just outside the encampment looking into the mouth of a horse and he made such a peculiar sound as he described the incident that I lifted up my head to look at him, and he was holding his mouth open with his hands just as the man had done in looking into the horse's mouth! But he was a man of power and wrought well for the Church and for humanity.

    The rarest character I ever met in my life I met at that campmeeting in the person of Rev. Robert Sheffy, known as "Bob" Sheffy. He was recognized all over Southwest Virginia as the most eccentric preacher of that country. He was a local preacher; crude, illiterate, queer and the oddest specimen known among preachers. But he was saintly in his life, devout in his experience and a man of unbounded faith. He wandered hither and thither over that section attending meetings, holding revivals and living among the people. He was great in prayer, and Cripple Creek campground was not complete without "Bob" Sheffy. They wanted him there to pray and work in the altar.

    He was wonderful with penitents. And he was great in following up the sermon with his exhortations and appeals. He would sometimes spend nearly the whole night in the straw with mourners; and now and then if the meeting lagged he would go out on the mountain and spend the entire night in prayer, and the next morning he would come rushing into the service with his face all aglow shouting at the top of his voice. And then the meeting always broke loose with a floodtide.

    He could say the oddest things, hold the most unique interviews with God, break forth in the most unexpected spasms of praise, use the homeliest illustrations, do the funniest things and go through with the most grotesque performances of any man born of woman.

    It was just "Bob" Sheffy, and nobody thought anything of what he did and said, except to let him have his own way and do exactly as he pleased. In anybody else it would not have been tolerated for a moment. In fact, he acted more like a crazy man than otherwise, but he was wonderful in a meeting. He would stir the people, crowd the mourner's bench with crying penitents and have genuine conversions by the score. I doubt if any man in all that conference has as many souls to his credit in the Lamb's Book of Life as old "Bob" Sheffy.

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  2. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    My first encounter with the exhorters came from walking through the doors of the Merrimac Pentecostal Holiness Church.

    1.You could feel the presence of God simply by walking through those doors!
    2.All the people were friendly
    3.The song leader would exhort to praise
    4.There we many who would exhort with encouraging words
    5.The people would shout, dance, speak in tongues, interpret, and run the aisles
    6.The people would encourage and ‘make a fuss’ over anyone new.
    7.The joy of the exhorters was something they took home with them and then to work. Praising God all the day long.
    8. We continued in almost exact methods as the Cripple Creek camp meeting 100 years before us, even with the men sitting on the left side from the pulpit and the woman on the right.

    Pictured is our old pastor, who would keep the Cripple Creek camp meeting alive in the form of Pentecostal Holiness all his good days at the church. He kept a bottle of anointing oil by his pulpit, which he used almost every service. I can remember as a young man working the restaurant during the morning, the hayfield in the afternoon, and then going to revival at night. It seemed that we had revivals once a month and things for the young people to get into weekly. Going to Pizza Inn on a Sunday night was fun after church and there were no visible generation gaps among the people.

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    The Methodist revivals and camp meetings basically ceased around 1900 and the Pentecostal revivals and camp meetings basically ceased around 2000. The Cripple Creek camp meeting has basically dissipated away and no one in the area remembers them. In looking back in the generations of Methodist and Pentecostal Holiness it seems that the revivals burned brightest in time of war. The old Civil War and World War II generations exhorted to revival, which would be loss after their passing.

    "Love will not be constrained by mastery. When mastery cometh, the God of Love anon beateth his wings, and, farewell! He is gone! Love is a thing as any spirit free." – Chaucer

    One of the reasons I dislike the denomination is that the leadership can become incredibly arrogant and fleshly in nature in their generation. In my generation, Pentecostal Holiness, the leadership has went to the cemetery (oops! I meant the seminary) and became incredibly arrogant. We, in my opinion, have become worse off than any other denomination, and the leadership cannot see it. True spirit is not a religious mindset but a spiritual experience that occurs within the heart!
     
  3. Heart2Soul

    Heart2Soul Well-Known Member

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    Sad but true....what starts out as a move of the Holy Spirit becomes a twisted arrogance of self-righteous pride in man....quenching the Spirit and putting their "rules" in place of the anointing.
     
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  4. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    Just attended a funeral of the last of the departed saints this past week. He was the last of the old World War II generation and I will miss him dearly. I remember putting up hay with him as he was a farmer and he had a joy that endured all the day long. He would also shout, speak in tongues, work the altars with tears as he would pray for people, and run the aisles at church.

    I miss the old World War II generation dearly. I wonder if the Methodist before us also missed the Civil War generation equally after their passing. They were good people and saintly in their walk with the Lord.
    Linkous Jr., Dallas Edward
     
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  5. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    Even if one were to reform the old Methodist or Pentecostal Holiness church I just described he would be hard put to find good evangelists and exhorters to help such a movement along. It looks like as the Methodist revival was lost with the departure of the Civil War area generation so our revival was lost with the departure of the World War II generation.
     
  6. rockytopva

    rockytopva Well-Known Member Encounter Team

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    I am a Youtuber with nearly 1.5 million views (rockytopva). I am currently working on a video on exhortation, which was best with the Civil War and World War II generations. To exhort is to bring faith and light alive, I must be careful to keep the content that way.
     
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