COVINGTON – Salem Campground is preparing to usher in one of the oldest camp meetings in the nation at the 191st Salem Camp Meeting.

Since 1828, Salem Camp Meeting has provided a week of worship and fellowship to thousands of attendees with noted preachers from across the country leading various services. This year, the camp will be held from July 12-July 19. The first service begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and the candlelight closing service will be held at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 19.

“It is an interdenominational camp, and anyone is invited to attend,” said Sam Ramsey, chairman of the Salem Campground trustees. “I urge people to come because they are missing a lot if they don’t.”

Activities for the week include Bible study, games and sports for the youth, communal meals, picnics, performances by area church choirs, and daily worship services at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Saturday, July 13, the Salem Sweet Spirit 5K Run/Walk will be held as a fundraiser to preserve the campgrounds and to support the annual program. The 3.1-mile race course follows paved and unpaved roads and footpaths through shaded woods and past structures dating to the 1840s, including the historic tabernacle. The race begins at 8 a.m. Registration for the race is $30; $15 for the fun run. Participants can register online at https://ultrasignup.com/register.aspx?eid=7736 or on race day.

New to Salem Camp Meeting this year is the Tour of Tents on Saturday, offering the public an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at how multi-generation families live in the camp's historic "tents" during camp meeting. The free tour will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Many of the "tenters' will offer after-lunch snacks and desserts, including homemade ice cream.

"We call them tents because during the 1800s when families arrived at camp meeting in wagons, they would pitch a tent as shelter for the week," said Jane Langford, a Salem board member and organizer of the event. "Eventually families began building permanent structures, but the name 'tent' stuck."

Salem's morning and evening worship sessions will be led by two prominent preachers from Georgia:

• The Rev. Dr. Bill Britt has been the senior minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta since 2008. He is a graduate of Stetson University, and received his master of divinity from Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. He later received his doctor of ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. He has served churches throughout the North Georgia Conference including Trinity-on-the-Hill UMC in Augusta, Trinity UMC in Cartersville, and First UMC in Athens.

• The Rev. Dr. Carlos Sibley has been the pastor of Watkinsville First Baptist Church in Watkinsville for the past 19 years. During his tenure the church has grown from a relatively small church to more than 1,500 in weekly attendance, with a vibrant college ministry. Sibley attended Auburn University with one vocational path in mind, but God had other plans. During his senior year in college he answered the call to ministry. He went on to receive a master of divinity degree from Mid American Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tenn., and a doctor of ministry degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, Mass. He began his ministry at Macedonia Baptist Church in Cleveland, Tenn.

Other featured participants this year include Heather Nyesewander, a children’s minister who is currently attending Emory’s Candler School of Theology in hopes of becoming a Navy chaplain upon graduation; Russell Lawless, a youth minister who currently works at Greater Atlanta Christian School as a math teacher and athletics coach; and Thomas Roberts, platform leader and music director of Salem Camp Meeting since 1989.

Alice Walker and Becky Ramsey, who have been pianists for the camp meeting since 1971, will return for their 48th annual performance.

The Salem Campground is located at 3940 Salem Road in Covington. A detailed schedule of events can be found at www.salemcampmeeting.org.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.