We welcome everyone to join with us to worship God and carry on the tradition of many generations of Christians who gathered together every year for camp meeting. You are invited to join us for any and all 7 nights of old-fashioned church services under the historic open-air arbor (tabernacle).
The Salem Campground is about 4 miles north of Benton, Arkansas. We no longer camp out for a week or two in tents or cabins, and we only have one service in the evening instead of three or four meetings throughout the day, but we still enjoy worshiping God and celebrating the tradition and memories of camp meeting.
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Besides the special music from 7 to 7:30 PM, we usually have some impromptu music almost every night prior to the official start time of 7 PM.
Sing along with Rev. Rodney White as he sings some well known songs that you may have heard on the Gaither TV shows. Then at about 7:15 we start congregational singing early to allow for more audience selections.
Randy Mason enjoys singing Southern Gospel Music including some songs recorded by Elvis Pressley. During the work day he is in the automotive business, and has been for 31 years. He has been with Everett Infiniti of Central Arkansas (I-30 and Alcoa Rd) for about 4 years.
Greg Schick sings, plays guitar and keyboard, and gets the young people involved in his fun and sometimes funny routines and music. He may even have the entire congregation participate in a mass choir with each section doing something different. This will be his sixth year to share his musical ministry with us. Greg is Pastor of Contemporary Service at Saint James UMC in Little Rock.
The choir from Parkview United Methodist Church of Benton again graces us with their singing after a few years absence. The choir director is Nancy Peeler.
Hymns: At 7:30 PM each night we all join in singing the old hymns! Anyone who wants is welcome to come join the choir. We especially encourage young people to join the choir. Even if you do not know all the songs, come join us and be surrounded by some exuberant singing. Russell Powell and James West serve as song leaders this year, accompanied by pianist Kathleen Dockery. Anyone who wants is welcome to come join the choir. We especially encourage young people to join the choir. Even if you do not know all the songs, come join us and be surrounded by some exuberant singing.
Kathleen Dockery serves as praise team director and pianist for contemporary and traditional worship services at Oaklawn United Methodist Church in Hot Springs. She has been driving from Hot Springs to play the piano at Salem Camp meeting for several years. Anyone who hears and sees her playing that old time gospel style piano can tell that she enjoys what she is doing. Judging by the smiles on the faces of the audience, her enthusiasm and enjoyment must be contagious.
Dockery has been involved in gospel singing conventions for at least 50 years as the pianist and / or an officer. She is the secretary treasurer for the Arkansas River Valley Gospel Singing Convention in Atkins, Arkansas; former president of the Garland County Gospel Singing Convention in Hot Springs; the Arkansas State Gospel Singing Convention; and the Arkansas-Oklahoma Gospel Singing Convention. These conventions carry on the tradition of hosting gospel music concerts an entire weekend including Friday night, all day Saturday, and usually Saturday night. You can see a Gospel Singing Convention Schedule that includes Arkansas events here.
At 8 PM camp meeting evangelist Carlton Cross returns to Benton to preach the 2019 camp meeting. Reverend Carlton Cross served as the Senior Pastor at Salem United Methodist Church in Benton for 7 years beginning in 2011. He now pastors at Ozark, Arkansas. Carlton has been serving in the United Methodist Church for over 20 years. Many of those years were in youth ministry. During this time he has built three different youth programs.
In 1995, at the age of 26, Carlton became a Pastor in the United Methodist Church and was appointed to two congregations in South Arkansas.
For eleven years, Reverend Cross served as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas. During his time there, he gained experience in different types of worship which include gospel, traditional, blended, and contemporary.
Carlton also served Oakley Chapel United Methodist Church in Rogers, Arkansas. Carlton then went on to serve the historical First United Methodist Church in Prescott, Arkansas.
Carlton is a graduate from Arkansas State University with training in sociology and philosophy. He also holds a Masters of Divinity degree from Memphis Theological Seminary. He has been married for almost 20 years to his wonderful wife, Tracy. He is also a very proud father of twins. He has a son, Brady and a daughter, Shelby who both graduated from Harmony Grove High School and now attend UALR
He has a passion for mission work and for over 14 years has served in an organization called Ozark Mission Project. For much of those 14 years, he served in the capacity of Camp Director. Carlton has also been involved in many local missions such as Helping Neighbors Food Pantry, Wesley on the Ridge, City Youth Ministries, Church Health Center, and Arkansas Area on Aging. He has also served as an evangelist for various camp meetings and revivals throughout the Arkansas area.
He was raised as a child of the Methodist heritage. His Methodist minister grandfather, Noel Cross, instilled in him a fertile foundation in the Methodist religion and in spiritual awareness. His parents Kenneth and Juanita Cross raised him in a good Christian home in the El Dorado area. His roots spread from Union County to Nevada County and he truly is proud of his heritage.
His hobbies include spending time with family and friends, golfing, and some of his greatest joys include pastoral care and preaching The Gospel.
The open arbor (tabernacle) where camp meetings are held is a tangible and functional reminder of the days when people actually camped for a couple of weeks in the fall after the crops were harvested. Although the arbor is owned by the Salem United Methodist Church, and the evangelist is a Methodist, we hope that all Christians will feel welcome to come to camp meeting and worship God as a community the way our forefathers did. We still need and desire to experience God's forgiveness and life-changing power.
Volunteers set up the piano and sound system every evening prior to the service and tear it all down afterwards -- it cannot be left under the open arbor. Special thanks to Mike Green for providing an excellent sound system for camp meeting. Most of the singing groups use Mike's system since it is more than adequate for their needs. Volunteers also work prior to camp meeting making plans and arrangements for the next upcoming meeting, fixing up the arbor, and praying for God's blessings on the camp meeting and everyone who attends.
The camp meetings are organized and run by the Salem Camp Meeting Association. Anyone who wishes to attend the annual meeting is considered a member. The association elects a board which meets several times a year to conduct camp meeting business. The camp meeting association pays all expenses of the camp meeting including maintaining and improving the arbor. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their talent, time, and efforts to the annual camp meetings, and a special thanks to those who have generously contributed to improvements such as the new arbor roof, concrete floor, seat cushions, improved lighting, additional ceiling fans, and some nice church pews donated by the Vilonia, UMC. Annual camp meetings will continue as long as people keep supporting them. It is said that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, believing that it was more blessed to give than to receive, set an example of generous giving by giving away more than the equivalent of $1.7 million during his lifetime - more than he spent on himself or his family.
You can view and share pictures of the camp meeting on our Facebook page.