Was very interesting, exciting, informative, and fun.
I traveled up to Newark, Ohio with brother Charlie Craig.
We had an uneventful trip and a good time visiting.
As we arrived in Newark a nice thunderstorm greeted us.
Brother Craig knew where he was staying - I did not.
So, when we got to the church and talked with the couple who take care of visitor accommodations, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that I was to stay in a dormitory room on the Newark campus of Ohio State University.
I had studied the satellite maps before traveling as there appeared to be several walking/running/biking trails around the campus.
The school is about two or three miles from the church building (about half the distance of Dennison University, where I have stayed in the past).
As a result of these fine accommodations, I was able to run or walk every morning before sunrise.
THE RUNS (AND WALKS)
Since I was able to do something every day, I did not try to go any extended distance.
I alternated running one day and walking the next.
Each session was about three miles.
I ran along some nice, paved running/walking/biking paths that ran off campus past corn fields and streams.
I saw deer almost every morning.
These sessions took about thirty-five to forty minutes.
For my walks, I followed the same paths but went in the opposite direction and followed them around the perimeter of the campus.
This made for a nice fifty-minute or so walking session.
The services almost always start off with a bang.
Sherm Romine is the song leader (as he has been for over 40 years) and he does an amazing job.
We usually sing just one congregational song.
Somehow just that one song is enough to get the congregation jacked up.
Then the choir does two or three songs, then there are four or five special songs.
The most exciting service was Tuesday evening when the choir sang "I'm Amazed" as their second song.
Brother Sherm introduced the song by saying, simply, "Okay, we're gonna drop the bomb."
I had no idea what he meant until they started singing.
(I have heard them sing this song before.)
By the end of the first verse everyone was crying or jumping or praising God some way.
Even the lead singer had to pause to let loose before he could sing the second verse.
Then.... people started coming to the altars.
Even with all of that, there was still time for the minister to preach a message on Unity.
(A man I have seen before but do not know.)
Since my days visiting the campmeetings at God's Acres in Newark, there have been four splits in the group there.
The first happened in 1973 when brother Emerson Wilson started preaching that there was just one cleansing in salvation, instead of two, as taught by D. S. Warner and the Wesleys.
The next split came in 1987 when Brother Wilson died and there was a dispute over who should succeed him.
According to Tony, Brother Wilson told him (Tony) that he wanted him (Tony) to take his place.
But that preference was never published or communicated to the congregation before he died.
The man that was voted in at God's Acres is named brother Roger Decker.
He was the leader of a more strict faction while Tony was considered more "liberal".
I am not sure exactly what issues indicated who was more or less liberal, one of them was "modest dressing".
Anyway, brother Bartlett's congregation came out of that battle over succession.
Brother Tony Bartlett is now the Pastor of the Licking County Church of God.
Another split of the Decker group has taken place in 1998 over some issue with brother Decker himself.
A small group of about thirty to fifty started meeting in a building a few miles away.
Tony and I go back a long way.
Back to 1966.
In a town call Tague.
In South Korea.
While we were in the U.S. Army.
We soon met Wayne Barth, a young man with a Church of God connection.
He introduced us to the Revelation messages of brother Emerson Wilson.
We were captivated by how this message seemed to make sense of the religious landscape.
Soon we were listening to tapes by brother Wilson every week.
Copies of those tapes may still be in Korea somewhere.
We soon were joined by Tony's twin brother, Danny, who was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in the same town.
Then we were joined by Walt Williams, who was sleeping in the bunk above me.
And later by a black man named Abraham Jeeter.
There were others but we have lost touch with them.
Tony, Walt, and Jeeter (for some reason we call him by his last name) are all preachers.
Tony and Jeeter both are ministers of congregations.
Walt is a prison guard and counsels inmates on the side.
This campmeeting is a convenient way for us to get together.
While at campmeeting this year, I met several new (to me) people and was able to visit with several people that I knew only slightly before.
One of the latter was Sherm and Evelyn Romine.
I have known of them since the days of campmeetings on God's Acres in Newark in the late 1960's.
My last two nights I spent at their home (the college reservations end Saturday night)
And got to know them better.
They are dear people.
The trip back was uneventful and, true to pattern for this trip, just before we arrived in Huntsville, a thunderstorm greeted us.