Tennessee Mountain Stories

Building Campground

When we refer to “Campground” we don’t usually differentiate between the church and the community.  That’s because, contrary to Hollywood’s portrayal of pioneers and early America, the church was historically the center of the community.  And that certainly seems to be the case when we recall memories of Campground.

Mt Union Miss Baptist.jpg

In days with very limited transportation, no phones and a lot of hard work just to survive, church meetings were the prime times to visit neighbors, catch up on news and generally socialize.  So your church family was as vital as your biological family – and it functioned much the same way.

After many years in the little log cabin, Campground built a white board building to house the church – as far as I can understand, the school remained in the log building until it was closed in the 1930’s. The community came together to donate and cut the timber then assemble the simple building.  The architectural design of buildings in that era amaze me and I’m hoping some kind reader will leave comments to help us really understand it.  The foundations of these buildings consisted of large rocks stacked (without mortar binding) to the necessary height to both level the building and raise it out of reach of bugs.  Buildings were not always underpinned, allowing the wind (and occasionally small animals and children) to get up under the building.

This design was amazingly successful.  In fact, there are houses standing today with just such a foundation.  However, in the case of the church building, there came a day when the wind blew the building off its foundation.  Men from the church hoisted it back in place, but it was no longer as stable as the original construction so they shored it up with poles and continued having regular services in it.

I have to wonder what it would feel like to walk by such braces and enter the building – and I can’t help but wonder how excited the preacher would get in such a building.  Perhaps there’s an observation about faith in that – I sure hope I would be able to sit down and worship and not question how safe I might be in God’s house!

That little gust of wind prompted the congregation to look toward building a new church house.  Well, like I mentioned earlier, churches are like families.  In families we love each other no matter what, but we don’t necessarily always agree. And a story survives of at least one old lady who couldn’t see doing away with a perfectly good building just because it was unseated from its foundation.  Tilda Key Elmore stood up and declared, ‘My daddy helped build this building.  If it was good enough for him, it’s good enough for me!’ But Aunt Tilda (pronounced Tildee of course) wasn’t overly offended by being overruled; she did continue as an active member of the Campground church until her death in 1978.

The building was started with thirty cents in the coffers.  It was completed and stands today.  If you would like to see it, Pastor Josh England and the whole congregation would welcome you Sunday at 11:00 (Sunday Schools starts at 10:00)!

God declared feast days in Mosaic Law and Baptists have taken that to heart.  We’ll feast for just about any occasion.  The annual celebrations hold many fond memories, so next week we’ll talk about Decoration Day