BROOKSVILLE — Camp meetings have long been a part of the history of the Wesleyan Church. In keeping with that tradition, Brooksville Wesleyan Church will host a series of meetings Tuesday through Jan. 18 featuring Christian recording artist Burt Kettinger as the guest musician and song leader.
The speakers will be Kettinger's brother, LeRoy, and Mark Weeter. The public is welcome.
"The 1800s were a dynamic time of revivalism in the U.S., fostered by the Methodist circuit riders, camp meetings and the emergence of large evangelistic meetings, often held in tents that could serve the large crowds," said Ken Heer, president of the Wesleyan Bible Conference Association and host of the Brooksville meetings. "Camp meetings were period gathering times for evangelism and for nurture of the faithful."
The Wesleyan Church had its origin in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, Heer said. Today, the meetings have a different focus.
"The services have become more contemporary, and the focus is largely on encouraging the faithful and exhorting them toward Christian maturity," he said.
The first camp meeting in Brooksville was more than 60 years ago. In 1953, the Florida Conference of the Wesleyan Methodist Church purchased 30 acres on the east side of Brooksville with the vision of developing a camp meeting grounds for the conference. By 1960, a tabernacle was constructed, and seasonal and year-round homes were built by private individuals for what is now the Wesleyan Village retirement community.
Eventually, a church building was constructed on the property. Three years ago, a new church building was constructed on Cortez Boulevard. That comfortable, modern facility will be the site for the coming meetings.
Burt Kettinger, who sings regularly for the Moody Church Songs in the Night program, has led the singing in Brooksville before.
"It's always a delight on my schedule," Kettinger said via email. "There will be lots of joyful, enthusiastic, which actually means 'filled with God,' congregational singing, along with great and practical Bible teaching — all in the beautiful new setting of their church."
Kettinger said it will also be a joy to team with his brother and Weeter.
"This should be a powerful team to be sure," he said.
He recalled teaming with Weeter in 2011.
"Ken (Heer), Mark and I were the team (that year)," Kettinger said.
Kettinger has a son and Weeter a daughter with Down syndrome. Heer has a grandson with the disorder.
"That was the first time in my 26 years in the Down syndrome community that has ever happened with the platform team. It was pretty touching for each of us," Kettinger said.
Besides his nephew with Down, LeRoy Kettinger has an autistic granddaughter and another with a speech pathology.
"These children are blessings to our family," LeRoy said. "They help us all."
Heer has known the Kettinger brothers for several years.
"My first encounter with Burt came about 40 years ago when he was guest musician for a series of services at a campus church that I pastored," Heer said. "While his rich baritone voice exposes his wonderful talent, he is also a fun-loving person to be around. … I am glad to have some time with him as well as be blessed again by his music."
It will be the first time LeRoy has been a speaker at the meetings. He will speak on the theme of "Our Faith Journey."
"I will develop the points of interest we all encounter," he said.
"It will be fun to have the brothers here at the same time," Heer noted.
LeRoy Kettinger has been in ministry since 1969, holding several senior pastor positions in Methodist churches as well as administrative and consulting positions at colleges and universities.
Weeter, who is the associate vice president of academic affairs and a professor of religion at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is also a friend of Heer's.
Heer said he believes that everyone who wants to be "uplifted, equipped to better apply the Bible to everyday life and challenged to experience abundant living" will benefit from attending the meetings.