From Staff Reports
Area United Methodists and their neighbors will worship together Aug. 1-4 for the 202nd consecutive year during camp meeting in Sulphur Springs, Tennessee, near Jonesborough.
The event will bring people together once again to worship and will use the theme, “Together Again to Worship.” This year’s camp meeting will be a streamlined event. Organizers are hoping to be back to normal in 2022. Special groups and congregational singing will be from 6:30 to 7 p.m. each evening with evening worship beginning at that time and ending by 7:30 p.m.
The Rev. Sandra James Johnson is a native of Chattanooga,Tennessee. She attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she received a bachelor’s in sociology/social work. Before answering her call to ordained ministry she was employed with BellSouth Telecommunications. She previously served as vice president of the United Methodist Women in the former Chattanooga Distric
In 1995, she began her candidacy and was licensed as a local pastor in 1996. In May 2008 Reverend Mrs. Johnson received a Master of Divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia. Her prior local church appointments include: Eastdale Village Community, Hurst Memorial, and Strawberry Plains United Methodist Churches. In 2011 she was appointed as District Superintendent in the (Abingdon) Clinch Mountain District.
Rev. Johnson retired at the 2019 annual Conference and is currently serving the Pruitt Hill-Tate Chapel charge in Greeneville, Tennessee. Reverend Johnson is married to William Leon and they are the parents of two children and three grandchildren.
The Sunday through Wednesday evening gatherings occur at the historic camp shed in front of Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church, located on State Highway 75 about six miles south from Interstate 26, Gray-Appalachian Fair exit. The campshed is located at 1432 Gray Sulphur Springs Road, Jonesborough.
Each evening, congregational and special groups, including Loretta Bowers, Gray UMC Praise Band, Christian Trivette, and the Sulphur Springs Praise Band. Music will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the worship service immediately afterwards. A nursery will not be available for infants this year and the special ice cream gathering will not be held. Please practice social distancing if possible.
All events are free and open to all who wish to attend, although opportunities to make offerings will be provided. More information can be found at www.sulphurspringsumc.com.
Both the campshed and the worship held on the site have played critical roles in the development of Methodism in Southern Appalachia. As early as 1802, Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal that he had attended a camp meeting in the area with more than 1,500 people present. Most likely, Asbury attended a meeting held in a brush arbor. The gathering was formally organized in 1820, with the shed being built in 1842.
The shed was rebuilt in 1900, but the original hand-hewn logs were incorporated into the new structure and still can be seen today. Originally, families traveled far to worship three times a day at the site for four or five days. Their long stays led to the construction of a series of cabins around the shed. These were torn down in the early 20th century as transportation improved and meetings became shorter.