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"C" is for Camp Meetings

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"C" is for Camp Meetings. These outdoor services of worship held for a week or longer were characterized by the encampment of the participants. Camp meetings were not only religious in nature, but were also major social events in a predominantly rural culture. Eventually a brush arbor, wagons, and tents were replaced by a central tabernacle for worship and wooden structures for family groups [still known as "tents"]. At first camp meetings were conducted cooperatively by Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists—but the first two denominations withdrew, leaving the camp meetings to the Methodists. By the Civil War almost every Methodist circuit in the state had a camp meeting and after the war, new black Methodist denominations established their own. Camp meetings flourished in South Carolina during the nineteenth century, but few are held today.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.