Campground and Camp Meetings

History Book
History Book
History Book

Since the beginning of the work in Portland, the Apostolic Faith organization has held annual midsummer camp meetings. Over the years, these conventions have proved to be a source of spiritual revival and a valuable means of evangelism.

Laying out the rafters for the tabernacle.
Through the years, camp meetings have proved to be a source of spiritual revival and a valuable means of evangelism.
Ladies sweeping one of the many tent frames.

From 1907 through 1919, camp meetings were held each summer at rented locations in the city. Though there were many hardships in those early-day camp meetings, every effort was rewarded. Consecrated hands helped in the work of clearing the grounds and setting up what was practically a little city. Adjacent to the tabernacle, there would be a restaurant, a grocery store, utility buildings, and scores of family tents. Many local members would give up their rented houses or apartments and move onto the grounds for the duration of the summer meetings, which continued for three months.

An interior view of the tabernacle on the Kenton campground, where camp meetings were held from 1915 through 1918. The signs were handmade by Clara Lum, who came to Portland from the Azusa Street mission to assist Florence Crawford.

Eventually, the length of the summer meetings was reduced to seven weeks, but the time element seemed to make little difference in the number of conversions. An Apostolic Faith paper published at the close of one of those camp meetings related: “More souls were born into the Kingdom during these seven weeks than in any previous camp meeting. Whole families, people who were hardened in sin, people from the better walks of society, professed Christians, and even ministers, found salvation at the old, tear-stained altars where hundreds wept their hearts out to God.”

A flyer announces the opening of the thirty-first camp meeting.

In the large tent tabernacles, a sawdust trail led the way to the place of prayer, and the kneeling space around the little pine benches was carpeted with a thick layer of straw. The canvas tabernacle was always well-filled, the long, wooden benches usually crowded to capacity, and sometimes overflow crowds stood outside. As time passed, larger tabernacles and larger plots had to be secured for the summer meetings.

Stuffing straw into ticks.

The 1908 camp meeting, held on Mount Tabor at what was then the outskirts of the city, was an eventful and spiritually blessed session. The convicting power of God brought many souls into the Kingdom.

Interior of the tent used at the first camp meeting on the campground.

The faith of the congregation was tested at that camp meeting when an epidemic of smallpox broke out and threatened to spread throughout the grounds. The people of God went to prayer and prayed all night. Just as dawn was breaking, one of those praying saw a vision of Christ above the tabernacle and an angel moving over the tents of the camp. God healed those who were sick, and the disease spread no further.

Loading sawdust for spreading on tent floors.

Another trial came when a group of vandals seemed determined to cut down the large tent where services were held. They had succeeded in cutting twenty-two ropes and were in the process of cutting one of the main guy ropes when Florence Crawford, accompanied by a young woman, stepped forward and began to sing an old Gospel hymn. The tumult quieted, and the troublemakers skulked away in the darkness. God’s hand was clearly over the group—if the tent had fallen it could have caused a serious fire, because gasoline torches provided illumination inside, and sawdust and straw carpeted the ground. In spite of the disturbance, the Spirit of God worked unhindered in the hearts of earnest seekers, and one man even received the baptism of the Holy Spirit while the commotion was going on!

The 1909 camp meeting, held in the Montavilla district of the city, was also remembered for conversions of a number who became zealous soldiers of the Cross. There were two Fulton camp meetings, one held in 1910 and one in 1913. The camp meeting of 1911 was held at Southeast Eleventh and Division. The 1912 campaign was located at Eighteenth Avenue and Holgate Street. The location of the 1914 camp meeting was in the Alberta district. The next four camp meetings were held in the Kenton area, and the last camp meeting before the Duke Street campground was purchased was held in the Rose City section of the city.

Duke Street was still a dirt road in the 1920s.

A letter from the Apostolic Faith Mission, sent out in 1914 after the camp meeting, brought this report: “The camp meeting closed here August 2. It was the most wonderful camp meeting we have ever seen . . . A sister from Cincinnati came to the camp meeting sick in body, and the Lord touched her and gave her the baptism of the Holy Ghost; while under the power, she saw Jesus pouring oil into her vessel. A woman from Leavenworth, Washington, was lame and had other diseases, and went home perfectly healed, and is telling all her neighbors and rejoicing as happy as she can be. A man came to the camp meeting and was saved and sanctified and healed from the results of a terrible accident, from which he had suffered for years. He had to use a cane in walking. The Lord healed him at the altar, and now he has thrown aside his cane and is telling everywhere what God has done for him.”

Florence Crawford (right) and workers gather in the office tent on the campground.