HOLINESS CHURCH OF NY, INC.
In the year 1905 the Pentecostal Rescue Mission acquired a 99 year lease to 16 acres known as Macomber Grove in Hillcrest for the sum of $1,000. The first annual Pentecostal Camp Meeting was held in August of that year. For the first five years a tent was used as an auditorium. Then in 1910 an acid-works building was torn down on the orphanage grounds in Brookdale and erected on the camp grounds to serve as the tabernacle. This is the same tabernacle that stands today. The camp grounds were also shared by the orphanage and one of the buildings now standing on the camp grounds was originally an orphanage.
One can get a good idea of what the early camp meetings were like by reading the advertisements and accounts found in the “News from Home,” a periodical published by the Pentecostal Rescue Mission.
“...Our third camp meeting (will be) opening Thursday, August 22 and closing Monday, September 2.... There will be workers to give help at any time, day or night, to those seeking help along any line a dining tent where meals may be had. There is plenty of good water on the grounds, and everything as convenient as we can make it. It will be necessary for those wanting tents to order as early as possible. If board floors are wished, they can be had at 53 and 75 cents each.
Those coming to the camp will take the Port Dickinson car having on it the Camp Meeting sign. Those wishing to come on the Sabbath day... and who are unable to walk from the car line will be met at the Court House Square.. . and at the Mission Hall.
There will be a boarding tent on the grounds, in which two meals a day will be served, at 9 o’clock a.m. and at 5 o’clock p.m. at 25 cents each, also a lunch counter where lunches can be obtained at reasonable prices. Groceries, fruit, vegetables, milk... can be purchased on the grounds at reasonable prices.”
A report of the 1912 meeting reads as follows:
“The Camp opened with marvelous victory and the spiritual tide rose higher unto the close. Dr. Godby, the aged and venerable warrior, spent a few days with us. Rev. B. S. Taylor delivered two sermons.
During the early camps special services were held in the interests of the orphanage, the Bible School, rescue work, and foreign missions. At times, there would be several preaching simultaneously at different parts of the grove, standing on tree stumps.
Unfortunately, there are several gaps in the recorded history of the camp. The next camp meeting account takes place in the 1930’s during the depression years. Many people were out of work and those that were employed could scarcely make end meet. Four hundred dollars were needed to meet the expenses of the camp; four thousand would come easier today.
Rev. R. G. Finch was the evangelist that year. The last Saturday night Bro. Finch spent the night in prayer in the upper part of the grounds which at that time was brush scarcely shoulder high. The next day (Sunday) during the morning service Bro. Finch announced that he prayed through for the offering and that the money would come in. He took a large guitar case and opened it and laid it on the old plank altar and said, “Now you people obey God.” The scene that followed and the conscious presence of God would be impossible to relate. Pocketbooks were emptied, watches, and trinkets were given, even automobiles (the equivalent in money) were brought as gifts to the Lord. Over $700 in cash came in that offering. After the offering it seemed that the very windows of heaven were opened and such waves of divine glory swept over the camp as would be impossible to describe. Nearly the whole front half of the tabernacle was an altar with people seeking God. The atmosphere was heavy with the presence of the Holy One, not only in the tabernacle, but on the entire grounds. The entire day was in the hands of the Holy Ghost. The rest of the services just about ran themselves. The manifestations were not marked by loud and boisterous shouting but by a sweet mellow presence that was so marked that after 40 years people are still talking about it.
The list of prominent evangelists who served the camp over the years includes Revs. Chaffield, Kramer, Mitchell, Schmul, Adcock, Drown, Kittle, Busby, Pratt, Goodman, Jessup, Flexon, Zike, Montgomery, Hoover, Smith, and many others. Some of the song evangelists have been: Alvin Young, Byron Crouse, Kenneth Masterman, and Richard Beckham.
The grounds have been greatly improved in past years. Some of the more important projects have been:
1. The tabernacle foundation has received major repairs with new sills and considerable concrete work.
2. The pulpit end of the building which was never properly supported has been trussed up.
3. The bridge over Phelps Creek has been completely dismantled, new abutments built, girders straightened, and floor and treads replaced.
4. A new public address system was installed in the tabernacle employing some of the latest concepts of acoustic arrangement and speaker design.
5. The whole property was surveyed and a scale map produced by Mr. Vernon Reed of Syracuse.
6. Considerable forestry work has been done in the grove.
7. A new road around the back of the cottages has been excavated.
8. Off-the-grounds parking areas have been built.
9. Special trailer areas have been set up.
10. New rest rooms have been built!
11. A dormer with exhaust fans has been installed in the dining room.
12. A new building to provide motel-style accommodations for camp meeting workers.
13. New lighting in the tabernacle.
When we read of bygone camp meeting days, we may tend to think that our camps today do not compare spiritually with those of history. Yet, the Saturday evening service in 1971 would tend to suggest otherwise. Those who were in that service shall not soon forget it. After a song service full of shouts of praise, one of the evangelists suggested a march offering. The pans were placed on the altar and the congregation moved en masse toward the offering pans. Some gave two or three times until they had nothing left to give. Others were seen running to their rooms to get more money. The offering totaled $1,600, not in pledges to be paid in a year, but in cash. Besides this, a love offering was taken for a preacher who had lost his wallet containing all the money he had. There was shouting and running the aisles throughout the service. One man was so blessed that he leaped through a window and ran up to the roof to the bell, which he began ringing with vigor. Several people came to the microphone and spoke words of personal experience that inspired and encouraged the congregation. The service ended with the altar lined.
There is no reason why the camps of the future cannot be every bit as good, if not better, that the camps of the past. In 1975-76, an addition and improvements were made to the dining hall. In the same time period, construction was done on the bridge and road to the camp. In 1977-78, a new Boys’ Dormitory was erected. In 1981, ten cottages were moved from the Lily Lake Camp and placed on the Binghamton Camp Grounds. These cottages were assigned to the churches in the Southern Zone that had no cottage at camp.
In 1990, new floor covering was installed in the Dining Room and Kitchen areas. Also, new tables and chairs were put in the Dining Room. In 1990-91, the road to the entrance of the camp ground and the inner circle of the camp road were paved with asphalt.
In 1995-96, renovations were made to the caretakers’ dwelling. Most recently, in 1996 & 97, new seats have been installed in the tabernacle.