Sunday, October 14, 2018 found New Harmony Christian Church of Curryville, MO worshiping in the form of an 1801 Camp Meeting Worship Service. Our morning began with member, Dennis Noel arriving on horseback as a Circuit Riding Preacher. The congregation had moved outside to witness his arrival and hear what he had to share as he explained the work and responsibilities of the early Circuit Riding Preachers. Dennis was dressed in protective coat and hat of that time period explaining why they wore such garments. Once all had heard his stories, Dennis and his dog made their way back up the gravel road to their home.
Our congregation then moved inside into the original sanctuary of this church built in 1863 to experience an 1801 Camp Meeting Worship service. Marion Branstetter started the service by singing “Circuit Riding Preacher” which told the story of that work. Pastor Laura Beth Zeh then introduced some special guests who had come to share in the Camp Meeting Worship - characters Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Mrs. Campbell, Walter Scott and “Raccoon” John Smith. They told of their journeys on the circuit and shared what had been taking place as the planning of the start of the Disciples denomination to come.
The congregation then joined in singing “The Old Rugged Cross” a cappella. Pastor Laura Beth preached from John 15 speaking about the importance as the people come and gather to create the new Disciples movement how important it is to become friends as each binds together as sisters and brothers in Christ, the importance of prayer and lifting one another to the Lord, and communicating to learn about one another and the works to be done for the Lord.
“Jesus Loves Me” was sung for the Invitation and the service closed after The Holy Meal was shared and a love offering collected, by singing “Amazing Grace”, once again a cappella. The folks gathered then moved into the gathering room for a banquet of homemade goods that the folk had brought to share.
One of the remarks heard over and over again from various congregation members was how much they enjoyed the quiet of the service, and the focus on prayer and The Word. They embraced this experience to the depth that they have asked Pastor Laura Beth if this can become a quarterly practice and having the service outside when weather permits to be even more realistic in experience. We walk away from this experience by having more compassion and understanding what our founding families and leaders faced when coming together to worship in abundance.
Thank you to Pastor Laura Beth Zeh
for this story and photo.