In 1869, Methodist leaders decided to create a permanent camp meeting spot near the sea, at Ocean Grove, New Jersey. 660 tents once stood on the grounds and later a Great Auditorium was erected at the center of the community. Today the structure holds 7,000 people and hosts worship services, and other types of performances by artists like Johnny Mathis or Kenny Loggins. The auditorium was built in 1894 and this video shares more of the backstory of this unique structure.
(Locator: Ocean Grove, New Jersey)
Dr. Dale Whilden, Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association: "We're in the Great Auditorium which was built in 1894. This is the fourth actual worship center here, built on the 25th anniversary of Ocean Grove's founding.
It was built in 90 days. It was built by ship builders and it has that look about it, like the inside of a ship. One of the rules in the construction was that no profanity could be used and it was built for $69,000.
This beautiful building, when it was constructed, sat 10,000 people and over the years we changed some of the seating. Now it's about 7,000. We hold worship services here Sunday mornings and evenings and have a number of family entertainment events here.
Worship here at Ocean Grove is something you wouldn't see anywhere else.
Certainly the size of the auditorium conveys a sense of awesomeness to cause people to sense God's presence when they come in.
We have a marvelous organ. It's one of the top 20 in terms of size in the United States. 11,000 pipes and the grandeur of the organ is such that you can feel the auditorium vibrate on some of the notes.
Over the years we've had a number of well-known preachers here. And just the source of inspiration for everyone that comes to this auditorium.
That's what the camp meeting was all about, incorporating holiness into your daily life. And Wesley was a strong advocate of that. And that's one of the values that if Methodists come here they are able to learn about and I think pick up, that sense of holiness and the importance of it in this day when holiness is sort of swept under the carpet.
Enjoy a video tour by residents of the tents at Ocean Grove.
And, learn more about Ocean Grove and other sites every United Methodist should visit.