Featured Post

The Autumnal Equinox

                                           Last rose petals linger....                                                               ...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Methodist Campgrounds Whately Prep p.16

Stained glass in Tabernacle

 I was asked to write the introduction to a pamphlet for the Methodist Campground Association.  My role as Head of School lends cachet to my words that, generally, I do not feel.  My dual “citizenship” in the world of Whately Prep and in the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association lend me a unique perspective about living in tight-knit, peopled environment.  It is not always easy.  Whether at Whately Prep or on the Vineyard, I see wonders of natural beauty that stretch my imagination.  Whether at Whately    Prep or on the Vineyard, I am challenged by human behavior and surprised by their small-mindedness.  However, something will happen to complete reawaken me to the possibility of human kindness and I am, once again, filled with hope. 
I am rereading the draft of what I wrote and wondering if it is what the Board is looking for as an intro. I will simply email it to then and wait to hear from them. I have so many other things on my mind.  We are due to spend a week on Martha’s Vineyard just before summer sessions with the English as a Second Language (ESL) kids arrive on campus.  All I will need to pack is my new bathing suit.  My old one...well, either the elastic let go, or I lost weight.  The kids will need some help packing, but Declan said he would be on that.  
Okay, let me read this one more time....
Welcome to the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association!
The first campground meeting was held in Wesleyan Grove in 1835.  Tents were pitched to house men on one side of the grove and women on the other. Each of the tents were organized in “societies” based on the church community from which they hailed on the mainland.   Over the next thirty years, families began to lease land from the Methodist Campmeeting Association in order erect private tents to care for their families. These tents were built on wooden platforms to keep them off the sandy earth. Gradually, the tents were replaced with decorative gingerbread cottages. Residents continued to lease the land upon which their homes stood.  At one point after the 1870’s, there were over 500 cottages on the Methodist Campgrounds.  
Each day that the congregants spent on Martha’s Vineyard was spent in prayer.  From 1835 until 1859, ministers preached from a makeshift stand.  In 1859, the stand was replaced with a more elaborate stand that included a roof and an amplification system.  A tent was raised to cover Wesleyan Grove in 1869.  This served to protect the congregation of up to 4000 people from the sun and the rain during their long days and nights of prayer.  The tent served for ten years until the construction of an iron Tabernacle.  This same iron Tabernacle was well-used and served as the center of the Methodists worship for a century.  The hundreds of campground houses that sprang up encircled the Tabernacle in ever further concentric circles.  Over the second half of the twentieth century, the homeowners that were accepted as leaseholders on the Campgrounds became more and more interdenominational.  A large campaign to raise funds afforded the opportunity to refurbish the Tabernacle in 1999.  The upgrade afforded repairs to the structure and electrical and sound system upgrades.  The Tabernacle serves many purposes both in campgrounders’ lives as well as in the Oak Bluffs community at large.  Sunday Worship services and Wednesday Community Sings are part of the traditional uses of the Tabernacle. There are concerts from famous musicians, renowned speakers use the venue, as well as the senior class of Martha’s Vineyard Regional HIgh School uses it to conduct services for graduation.  In mid-August, Islanders come to view Illumination Night; it is night during which the cottages are elaborately decorated with lighted Japanese lanterns. Trinity Circle, the road that circumscribes the Tabernacle is aglow with tempered light.  It is a vital and close knit community where neighborliness is a lifestyle.
That should do for a draft.

No comments:

Post a Comment