July 18, 2008

Celebrating 70 Years of Cowboy Camp

By Kerrville Daily Times, Texas

Jul. 18--MOUNTAIN HOME -- The open-air tabernacle on the hill stands quiet and empty except for the barn swallows that cruise through. The grills are cold. Benches are stacked, hymnals have been put away. Fans have been taken down and the restrooms have been closed for the winter months. The kitchen is dark and deserted, but soon, that all will change and there will be a flurry of activity as the loyal volunteers ready the campgrounds for the 70th annual Hill Country Cowboy Camp Meeting, which starts Aug. 3 and runs through Aug. 10.

Saturday night, Aug. 2, the men will prepare the beef and fire up the grills in preparation for the camp meeting. They will prepare more than 1,200 pounds of beef to feed those who attend the week-long event. The ladies will put the final touches on the tabernacle, the kitchen and the nursery before the first service at 11 a.m. Aug. 3, which will be followed by a noon meal. There will be barbecue, beans and iced tea for the lunch and for every meal throughout the week -- all furnished by the Hill Country Cowboy Camp Meeting Association. Attendees are encouraged to bring a covered dish. Dinner is served again at 6 p.m. and every night through Saturday.

The schedule

This year, the first Sunday's schedule is a bit different. Instead of a Bible study at 7 p.m., the service will immediately follow the 6 p.m. meal. Every other night except Friday, the meal will be followed by Bible study at 7 and worship again at 8 p.m. There is a nursery furnished for the evening service each night.

Sunday: Jay Dozier of First Christian Church will conduct the first worship service at 11 a.m. Aug. 3. The band from his church will provide the inspirational music for the service. The 7 p.m. service will be presented by George Harris of First Baptist Church of Kerrville. As mentioned previously, there will be no Bible class that evening.

Monday: The worship service at 5 p.m. will have a patriotic theme. It will be led by Chaplain Max Dunks of Kerrville. The 8 p.m. service will be conducted by Chad Harding, youth pastor of Gates of the City of Kerrville. Harding and his youth army also will present the music for the service. They plan to help in the kitchen by assisting the servers that evening.

Tuesday: The 5 p.m. service on Tuesday will be led by Dr. Robert Carpenter, followed by the Rev. Frankie Enloe and the Guadalupe Boys at 8 p.m.

Wednesday: Mark Johnson of the Soul Cafe will lead the 5 p.m. worship. Dr. Dave Gentry of Westwood Ministries will conduct the worship service at 8 p.m.

Thursday: Russell Page of First Baptist Church of Kerrville will start off the 5 p.m. service, and Stockton Williams of St. Peter's Episcopal Church will lead the 8 p.m. worship.

Friday: The schedule will change again on Friday, when Mike Weaver of Wild Ride Ministries will start the day at 5 p.m., and Clifton Jansky will share his music ministry starting at 7 p.m.

Saturday: The 5 p.m. worship will be led by Robert Hocker of First Christian Church, and the 8 p.m. service will be conducted by the Rev. Sam Hunnicutt of United Methodist Church of Hunt.

Sunday: The last service of the week traditionally is a reunion and memorial service. It will be at 10:45 a.m., officiated by the Rev. Bill Blackburn.

Bible Study

Debbie Williams of Hill Country Ministries will be the first ladies' Bible class speaker, starting at 7 p.m. Monday. Katie Bess Williamson will lead the Bible class on Tuesday; Deana Blackburn will teach Wednesday; Kathleen Maxwell on Thursday; and Rhea Boone will finish the ladies' Bible classes on Saturday, Aug. 9. There will be no ladies' Bible class on Friday evening due to the scheduling of Clifton Jansky's music ministry.

The Men's Bible classes also start at 7 p.m. Monday, with Don Higginbotham of First Baptist Church in Fredericksburg; Tuesday's class will be led by Ray Tear of First Presbyterian of Ingram; Wednesday, Phil Bob Borman will speak to the men's group; Thursday, James Williamson will conduct the class; and Bill Arnold will teach the last men's class on Saturday.

Children and Youth

Starting at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 4, children's classes and youth events are scheduled each night, while the men's and ladies' Bible studies are being conducted. Bill and Nellen Mentch will teach the children every night except Wednesday, when back by popular demand, Jacqui Jackson will bring her horses and ponies as the Heart of the Hill of Heaven Christian Outreach. She ministers to children about Jesus through her beloved equines. Friday evening, there will be no youth or children's classes.

There will be an exciting and motivating youth program each evening starting Monday, Aug. 4. The youth group also will take over the meeting starting with dinner that night, as well as providing the music for the 8 p.m. worship service.


Music is a big part of the camp meeting, as always. For the 17th year, Dale Durham will be the music leader throughout the week. He will be accompanied by Lyn Carriker and Cheryl Murray on piano.

During the first Sunday service at 7 p.m., the Senior Adult Choir from First Baptist Church of Kerrville will perform. Tuesday, Frankie Enloe and the Guadalupe Boys will provide inspiration and music at 8 p.m. Wednesday, David McClung is scheduled to strum. Thursday, the Sunrise Baptist Choir will lift up everyone's spirits with their music and Clifton Jansky will share his musical testimony on Friday night. Saturday, Mack McCoy and Kevin Andrews will provide the special music program. Dr. Anna Armstrong will continue a camp meeting tradition by singing "Golden Bells" during the final service on Sunday, Aug. 10.

The camp meeting closes on Aug. 10, after a 10:45 a.m. memorial and reunion worship service conducted by the Rev. Bill Blackburn of Partners in Ministry, followed by the last barbecue and covered dish meal.

The Hill Country Cowboy Camp Meeting was first held at Sunset Baptist Church in Mountain Home in 1939. Organized by prominent area ranchers in the area to provide an opportunity for friends and neighbors to share their love of the Lord, the annual event has become a popular interdenominational tradition. The meeting starts this year on Sunday, Aug. 3 and runs through Aug. 10.

The women of the families have been involved since that first meeting, preparing covered dishes to complement the barbecue and bean meals provided by the men of the group. The traditional goat has been replaced by beef, but the spirit, friendship and faith of that first gathering has survived the years. Many families from the Hill Country have been a part of the camp meeting for generations.

The Women's Auxiliary was formed in 1951 to support the efforts of the men's group -- the Hill Country Cowboy Camp Meeting Association. Over the years, they have raised money to furnish the children's nursery, provide hymnals for the tabernacle and help the association with building projects and repairs. This year, they have created a cookbook that will be available for sale at the meeting. The cookbook will include many of the delectable dishes that have been served during the camp meeting meals over the years.


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