In the autobiography of John Wesley Hughes, we have the account of the early beginning of the Wilmore Holiness Camp Meeting. In the early 1900’s “in the month of August, Dr. H. C. Morrison and myself were walking down by the grounds known now as the Central Holiness Camp Grounds. While in busy conversation I called his attention to what is now the campground, a nice woodland, and said to him, ‘At no distant date I mean to have a full salvation camp meeting on those grounds.’ He replied, ‘Good for you! That is a fine idea.’
I prayed earnestly about the matter and after much prayer and consultation with Rev. C. M. Humphrey and
G. A. Sawyer, members of the Kentucky Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, we sent for a tent and held our first camp meeting, which was a splendid success. Many souls were saved and sanctified, and the
saints of God were encouraged to back the project. My objective was to connect the college and the camp meeting as to make them mutual supports.
At the close of the camp meeting I aimed to raise one thousand dollars and succeeded in raising eleven hundred, which built the present auditorium. When I began the collection a friend of mine said he thought I could not get more than three hundred dollars out of that crowd. But we of the holiness ranks know something of the giving proclivities of the holiness people who are bent on spreading Scriptural Holiness We put on the building the motto, “Holiness Unto the Lord.” The promotion of which means its final success, the neglect of which means its final failure. The objective of Asbury College and Central Holiness Camp Meeting must be fully carried out to please God, who put them on my heart, and I have felt from the beginning that if either or both should ever reach the day in their history when this was not their objective, God would have no more use for them and they would die a natural death.
One of the most efficient agencies in the promotion of the holiness revival throughout the country is the Holiness Camp Meeting, where hungry people, who do not get the full Gospel at their homes, can come and be fed, the unsaved and unsanctified can get saved and wholly sanctified: and the ministers of the Gospel who need to hear somebody else preach, and get refreshed and refined, bringing their flocks and putting them in touch with full-salvation camp meetings, “where, thanks to God, tens of thousands have been saved, sanctified, and established in the great doctrine and experiences of full salvation, and so instructed by capable leaders and speakers.
After a careful study of the greatest problems of the church and the ministry, namely, how to get men to God, I do not hesitate to say that no movement of the people of God has counted more for the time and money invested than the camp meeting movement.
Shame on the Methodists, and especially the Methodist preachers, who would in the smallest way insinuate against, or interfere with, the typical old Methodist revivals and camp meetings. Better for them if they had not been born.”
The Wilmore Camp
Home of Asbury College, Asbury Seminary
and Wilmore United Methodist Church
Of all the camp meetings I have no account of written history of the Wilmore Camp – since John Wesley Hughes founded the camp meeting. I can remember attending this camp meeting where campers came and
camped, and great holiness preachers preached the Word of God with power under the unction of the Holy Ghost.
I can remember son leaders led by the Holy Spirit singing the songs as they led the congregation and gave their message of solo as the Spirit led. The music was as important as the preaching because all down through history where there was the preacher Moody, there was the Sankey, singer. Where there was the preacher John Wesley there was the Charles Wesley, singer. Where there was the John Church, preacher, there was the Clay Milby, singer. Other great preachers and great singer and then there was the missionary day with the message
from the God called missionaries.
What a spirit of God’s presence and Holiness was in our midst. Souls were saved and sanctified. Backsliders were reclaimed and believers renewed. I can still hear the shouts of the saints at the Wilmore Camp Meeting. Mother Hinkle and the shouting laughter of Brother E. P. Swann.
What has happened? Many of the saints have gone. Other interests of the family and community seem greater. There is concern of the Spirit-filled Camp President, Reverend Larry Cochran calling out: “Spiritual darkness doesn’t take a vacation. No matter the time of year – hearts cry out for connection with their Creator. God Himself yearns to empower His people to touch the world with His love.”
Why not bring some light into your life – plan not to bring the whole family and join in a week of spiritual enrichment at Wilmore Camp Meeting. Invite your friends and join the community of Wilmore for a special time
of personal renewal. You won’t be the same!
Many of the camp meeting of yesterday have ceased, but are not forgotten. The camp meeting where I was saved as a seven year old in a children’s service is gone but not forgotten.
Baby Boomers of today who like to camp with their families don’t know anything about camp meetings.
What a great opportunity to bring the family in their campers and tents and camp out on the camp meeting
grounds, cook out or eat at the dining hall. If they are interested in the spiritual life of their family, youth, and children, what a great opportunity! What an opportunity for the church and community to make that a part of
their activity and program for the church.
All members of the church who cannot be present themselves, should plead with God daily and earnestly for his blessing upon the meeting. And if there are any who can only attend a single day, going in the proper spirit,
they will doubtless find it highly profitable. Thus every member of the church can contribute something to the interests of this extraordinary means of grace; and if this were done in a single instance, results would be great,
and glorious joy would doubtless follow.
The spirit with which individuals and societies attend camp meeting has much to do with their own profit,
and with the general success of the meeting. Remember from the first, the object is wholly a spiritual one,
Salvation – present joyful Salvation. Purity for the church and pardon for sinners. These are the results hoped
for at the camp meeting. They are co-ordinated in God’s method. What is done for one is done for the other. Therefore, think on these things. Cry to God for the anointing spirit upon your own soul, and labor and pray with what grace you have, and what you can get, for the salvation of the lost around you.
Let the preachers show that they, and their families also, are identified with the meeting about to be held; let them announce from Sabbath to Sabbath with emphasis; let them pray publically and earnestly, as well as privately, for the blessing of God upon the coming occasion; let them exhort the people to pray for it also. Finally, let a special prayer meeting be held for God answers prayer.
These measures, taken with the proper pirit, will bring the blessing of God in a baptism of power upon preacher and people. They will generally inspire large numbers, both out of the church and in, with a
determination to attend. Every member of the church can do something to add to the interest of the coming occasion. Many families can contribute in getting others to come and camp out with them. You all come! There will be fellowship, fun, and faith for the family.