HERITAGE AND RESTORATION ON THE TOP OF MOUNT ELMIRA
THE CAMPGROUND: A PART OF OUR HERITAGE
(EL MIRA THE PASTURE OF GOD)
It is good to honor the men and women of honor, both those of the past and the present, who have given so much of themselves to The Body of Christ by way of affording us the Campground at Shepherdsville, Kentucky. It seems that we sometimes have been remiss in not fully and properly giving honor where honor is due. The Bible teaches us to owe no man anything, Romans 13:8. Let it be known there has been great sacrifice with much suffering by many which has afforded us these wonderful grounds as a place of common heritage and place of gathering.
It all began with a vision given by God to Brother William Sowders. A vision to have a place that would be a pathway of charity. A place where all of the people of God could gather. A place where race, denomination, doctrine, or any of the many other things that divide God’s people could be left behind. A place where there would be an open pulpit. A place where the people of God could meet and worship God in Spirit and in truth. He envisioned a place where the Word of God could be preached and threshed out without fear or favor to any man.
This place on top of Mt. Elmira, on Highway 44, which we identify as The Gospel Of The Kingdom Campground, is the place God gave for this purpose. Brother Sowders prophesied that this Campground would be a place of refuge where the people of God would be gathering throughout the thousand year reign.
Purchasing the property in 1935 and beginning meetings shortly thereafter he witnessed God bless and increase until the Tabernacle was full and overflowing. Men of God from around the country came to hear, to see, and to receive this more perfect gospel showing a more perfect way God revealed to this humble but great man of God. Great truths were taught and established on the threshing floor. The people of God were blessed. Brother Sowders saw his vision come to a marvelous margin of fruition; then in he 1952 passed from this life after having fought a good fight and keeping the faith. It can be said of a certainty he was faithful until the end of the purpose of God in his calling.
In 1955 it was erroneously determined that the days of the Camp meetings were no more and that the Brotherhood would gather there no more. I was not there so I am not qualified to make too many comments about the decision, but this I do know; God was not finished with the Campground. The courts soon thought to possess the property and put it up for sale. Were it not for men who continued to hold this great asset and place of heritage dear it would surely have been lost. Brother R.E. Dawkins went to court and succeeded in saving the property from certain seizure and sale. Then there was Sister Mary Mills, who through patience and persistence with proof of purpose, spent countless hours’ of labor and many of her own assets to keep the property from being taken over by the government and sold at auction for taxes. Even with this the courts levied taxes on much of the agriculture aspects of the property demanding back taxes be paid. Ministers, who continued to cherish the heritage and vision, responded; paying off all of the tax levied indebtedness.
In 1984 God arranged that Brother Alfred Daves become a trustee of The Gospel Of The Kingdom Campground. Like Brother Sowders and those other men before him Brother Daves had a vision and a love for this Campground. His vision was to see the Campground again become a common meeting place for all the people of God. He also was endowed by God to see the property that had fallen into disuse and disrepair restored to its former glory. He began visiting and gathering with the General Brotherhood from around the country petitioning them to come and visit, to see, to feel, saying, "Try the spirits and see if they be of God.”
In 1988 God directed Brother Daves to ask Brother James Sowders to become a trustee. God inspired Brother Daves to know that Brother James Sowders would be a gate for the return of the Brotherhood. Brother James Sowders accepted the responsibility and from then until now God has proven He is in the arrangement. The Campground has flourished and the improvements are many. The crowds are again overflowing as are the blessings of God. This Campground is The Body Of Christ’s. It belongs to the general brotherhood. The Campground is once again a place of vision and heritage for all of God’s people to come and worship. God in fact has used Brother Alfred Daves in This part of the restoration process.
So much of what we are, hold to be true, good, and dear are directly related to the people and events that took place at the (Gospel Of The Kingdom Campground) during the great Camp meetings of years gone by. It was there during the 1930s and 1940s that most of the foundation doctrines of this Body were hammered out by men with a vision of a restored Church preaching a restored gospel. Could it be that God will again allow us a renaissance on these very same grounds? Here where He, just a few decades ago, inspired men to dig into the scriptures and struggle through the trash pile of traditions and philosophies of religion to have their souls illuminated with the greatest advances in restoring the Apostles Doctrine since the great apostasy? If so, it is my desire to be there when it happens.
Not for reasons of nostalgia or the thought that a geographical consideration obligates God. It does not. There is an advantage because the Camp Ground and the Camp Meetings are possibly the only ideal place for the continuance of the labor of restoration began by Bro. William Sowders. This same Camp ground in 1935 is, or at least could be, the most neutral of meeting places. Of course neutrality would be contingent on the establishing of an order where there would be authority and rule, but without partiality of personality or position. This could be done by the implementation rules of order protected by a rotating trusteeship, combined with a rotating moderator-ship.
Appreciation of the fellowship of the ministry and saints of God is a given. However also appreciation of the truth of the word of God is also paramount. not just the milk of the word, but the meat of the word. The people of God love to praise and worship God. Our God is worthy of our praise and worship. Of a truth all are encouraged and uplifted during a move of the Spirit. However it is the truth of the word of God that sustains us. The word of God enables us to see the things that were, the things that are, and the things that shall be. The Word of God serves as our eyes before, eyes behind, and eyes all around. When the bread is broken, and the olives are squeezed we all are edified, as we are washed in the water of the word. When men of God stand to their feet and teach the word of God without fear nor favor, and that subject to question, proving all things and holding fast that which is good, we all are edified and thereby grow.
God will soon again, on the Campground, speak through men to draw us closer to Him through the continued revelation of His truth. Jesus said that we would know the truth and the truth would make us free, John 8:31-32. Then in John 17:17 He said, Sanctify them through Thy Word, Thy Word is truth. Through His Word the church shall ultimately know even as they are known, 1 Corinthians 13:12. The labor of restoring the truth, and building a garner is what built this Body, We were not built on a shout, or as an ecumenical fellowship, neither were we built on healing's and miracles. We have had, and do have all these wonderful blessings of the Spirit. However our vision and our divine commission is founded and established on the vision of producing the Church the Lord will return for.
Written by: Rev. Paul Dyal Pastor of Gospel Assembly Church in Jacksonville, FL.
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