I would like to thank West Tisbury resident Alan Reeke for his letter, published in the Sept. 12 Gazette. It states that the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association has strayed from its Protestant roots. The letter gives me, as president of the camp meeting association, the opportunity to correct what appears to be a misconception about the association, possibly a misconception shared by others. Although it dates back to 1835, the camp meeting association was officially chartered in 1868 by the Massachusetts legislature “for the purpose of maintaining annual religious meetings on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.”

To be sure, the camp meeting association, as a creature of the popular camp meetings of the 19th century, was once dominated by members of one Protestant denomination, the Methodists. And the association maintains a longstanding relationship with Trinity United Methodist Church, which is located in the Camp Ground. However, Methodists have been in the minority on the camp meeting board of directors and among the residents in the Camp Ground for quite some time. The current board of directors reflects the wide variety of religious traditions of the camp meeting association’s year-round and summer residents, including members of the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish faiths as well as all people of faith.

The camp meeting association continues to mirror the changing religious face of America. It continues to be a beacon of religious life in a time when religion has lost relevancy for many people.

I invite all to walk the paths of the Camp Ground, or join us for Sunday services in July and August and rejoice and give thanks for the same sense of peacefulness that people have experienced since 1835. The Camp Ground is one part of the Island, and for that matter one part of America that has remained faithful to its roots. It retains a strong and unbroken connection with its past and with its original religious purpose.

Jeff Ferriell
Oak Bluffs