Brush arbor meetings, tent revivals or camp meetings – they go by various names, but outdoor church services are a summertime tradition across Appalachia, including here in Alleghany County. Roger May, an photographer and writer who has devoted his life to documenting the people of Appalachia says this about these meetings; “I think tent revivals are a beautiful thing, often misunderstood, and unfortunately, quickly fading. In a world full of digital consumption and mega churches, there seems to be little interest in the old ways of worshiping, of gathering, and of holding these kinds of meetings. There is something special about documenting it that allows me to sort of be suspended between the preacher and the audience. Bearing witness to this has been incredibly powerful.” May documented his experiences visiting tent revivals in a blog entitled Glory. Locally, there are upcoming opportunities to become familiar with this unique worship experience.
Alleghany County natives, Reverend Cody and Mackenzie Hamm will lead services during the Faith is Rising Tent Revival on August 17-25 at 7:00 pm each evening. The location is 1889 US Hwy 21 just south of Sparta. Mackenzie offers a simple goal for these meetings, “…everything we do, whether it is singing or preaching at a Ladies Meeting or Tent Revival, whatever we do, we want to glorify and uplift the name of Jesus.”
A second opportunity is offered by Pine Fork Baptist Church on their church grounds at 8791 NC Highway 18 South near Laurel Springs. Dr. Phil Kidd from Grey, Tennessee will lead these services on August 15-17 at 7:00 pm each night. There will be special singing each evening.
Traditionally these tent meetings were a means of reaching people who may have felt uncomfortable attending traditional church services. Evangelistic in nature and purpose, they also furnished an opportunity to spend time with friends and neighbors, and to hear guest preachers and good singing during the late summer months before harvest season. While these meetings may seem old-fashioned and even antiquated to some, their message of renewal and authentic connection is timeless.