Villages and neighborhoods contained well-attended churches of various denominations. Church meetings were not held as often as today.
A general custom of the day was that women sat on one side with men on the other.
The Methodists had a circuit system for ministers. Each minister was assigned to a particular circuit of churches that he traveled to on horseback. He stayed with a church member living near the location of the preaching.
Single preachers received one hundred dollars per year. Married ministers received one hundred dollars for himself, one hundred dollars for his wife, and fifty dollars for each of his children. This likely encouraged matrimony!
Camp meetings lasted a week. Thousands traveled from miles around to attend services held in a shady grove near a public road.
The most eloquent preachers spoke at camp meetings during the day and evening. Log huts were built for families traveling too far to return home each day. The minister stood on quickly erected platforms.
Powerful sermons touched listeners at these festive occasions. People gathered to worship and sing but also to spend time with old friends and meet new ones. Many converts emerged from this week with sincere faith.
These meetings not only educated those attending about God’s love and forgiveness, but also exerted moral influence over the country.
Night meetings lit by lamp and torches illuminated the woods. The preaching and congregational singing inspired true worship that remained with those experiencing it.
-Sandra Merville Hart
“Camp Meeting,” New World Encyclopedia, 2015/06/15 http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Camp_meeting.
Welker, Martin. 1830’s Farm Life in Central Ohio, Clapper’s Print, 2005.