Camp Meeting History

Camp Ground’s Tabernacle Is 125

The Tabernacle, which celebrates its 125th birthday this season, still feels young. A structure suited to a vast range of human activity, the Tabernacle - which towers above Trinity Park in the heart of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association in Oak Bluffs - remains a living landmark.
 
The word tabernacle refers to a temporary shelter, such as the tent sanctuaries used by the Israelites during the Exodus. But the Camp Ground’s Tabernacle has proved anything but temporary.
 

When Oak Bluffs Seceded: The Gazette’s Fulminations Were Bitter But Unavailing

The whininess, contempt and partisanship with which the Vineyard Gazette reported this story over six years is journalism in its brightest rain-slicker yellow - all the more embarrassing and entertaining today because the paper lost the fight.
 

Hezekiah the Bell Is Ringing Again

At last Sunday’s service in the Oak Bluffs Trinity Church on the Camp Ground, Hezekiah began ringing again. The bell atop the belfry began ringing as it had rung back in 1966 before it suffered a fall, its yoke broken from old age.
 
For 16 years the 1,500-pound bell, made in 1888, lay dormant at the foot of its base. As a poor substitute, the bell’s sound was replaced by an electronic recording.
 

Parishioners Seek Donations So Hezekiah May Toll Again

There was a time at the Oak Bluffs Camp Ground when a bell atop Trinity Church rang the beginning of summer’s festive events, just as it would each Sunday’s call to worship. Its sound was crisp and sweet and its music sounded out over the Oak Bluffs rooftops and beyond.
 
Each summer, “Hezekiah,” as the bell is called, rang before Illumination Night’s first lantern was lit and prior to each religious event across the street at the Tabernacle. There are those who can remember. And there are those who would like to hear it again.
 

The Singing 1920's

The singing 1920’s are happy years I recall as the years of a community-serving Tabernacle.
 
Singing could be heard almost anywhere, almost anytime in Oak Bluffs because half the members of the choir of the Tabernacle lived together, played together and loved to sing together wherever they were. Mr. and Mrs. Adams, Dad and Mother to everyone who knew them, were the leaders of this group of vocal students on vacation.
 

Oak Bluffs Camp Ground Makes Register

The Camp Ground at Oak Bluffs is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Michael J. Connolly, secretary of state for the Commonwealth and the new chairman of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, made the news public.
 
The Camp Ground, Mr. Connolly said, is an area “unique in the nation for its architecture, remarkable state of preservation and as the best example of a nineteenth century religious retreat.
 

Editorial: Centennial of a Purchase

A hundred years ago the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meet­ing Association, having decided that the time had come to assure a settled state, acquired by purchase its extensive acre­age at what is now Oak Bluffs. “The cost of the grove, rights of way etc.,” Hebron Vincent recorded, “was thirteen hundred dollars.”
 

It Was a Paradise or a Wilderness That Camping Site

The modern town of Oak Bluffs traces its origin to a camp meeting held at the site, then a paradise or a wilderness — most people thought the former — in 1835. Hebron Vin­cent of Edgartown made this record of the first camp meeting, in his history, published long ago:
 
The first camp meeting held in this beautiful grove was in the year 1835, and commenced on Monday, the 24th day of August. A meeting has been held here every year since, excepting that of 1845, when it was removed to Westport Point.
 

Hundred Years of the Camp Meeting History Filled with Countless Episodes

The hundred years of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting are filled with countless episodes which link the Island with the great figures or great events of other periods; or reflect in some colorful way the atmosphere and manners of the times; or supply in their own right some flavorsome item of history.

These Were Founders

A circumstantial account of the selection of the site of the Martha’s Vineyard camp ground - which was the equivalent of the selection of the site for the town of Oak Bluffs - is contained in a communication which the Vineyard Gazette published in 1885. Jeremiah Pease of Edgartown was the prime mover; but the communication did not mention that the pastor in Edgartown a few years before this first meeting at the grove had been Rev. Frederick Upham. Mr. Upham was probably at the first camp meeting; he was certainly at the second.

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