“My wife and I had been married a year and our daughter had just been born,” Camp said. “I felt the call of the Lord, and I went to J. E. Waites, who was the preacher at Mount Alto Baptist Church then. I told him the Lord had called me to ministry and he put his arm around me and said, ‘God bless you, Brother Paul, you can preach tonight.’”
On that September night nearly 60 years ago, Camp preached his sermon from Second Timothy 4:1-8. The verse embodies the calling he felt from God:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
Camp said he was trembling during that first sermon and even wept, but after inviting anyone to come up to the alter to receive Christ as their savior, a woman came forward.
“I felt that was the Lord’s hand on my arm, calling me again to serve them,” he said.
Now, 60 years later, Camp will preach his anniversary sermon at Wesley Methodist Church in Rome on Sunday, Sept. 2, at 11 a.m.
Camp said his life has been enriched from spreading the Lord’s teachings, but also from his blessings.
Camp was the youngest child of 10, born in Red Bud, Ga. He met his wife, Frances, as a child, and years later they had their first date at the drug store on the corner of Second Avenue and Broad Street. The couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Sept. 3, 2011, at Magretta Hall.
Camp said he dropped out of high school when he was in the 10th grade and got his General Education Diploma. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Shorter College in 1964. Camp was pastor at Antioch and Armuchee churches in Texas Valley while also working for Oconee Clay Products in the 1950s and early 1960s. The Camps lived in Floyd County until 1964 when the family moved to Louisville, Kent., where Camp attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
When he graduated with a master of divinity degree in June 1967, the family moved to Jonesboro, where Camp became pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church.
In 1974, Camp was named director of missions for Macon Baptist Association, and the couple moved to Macon. While there, he received a doctorate degree of ministry from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
In 1988, the couple moved to McDonough after Camp was named director for evangelism and missions for the Georgia Baptist Convention; at the time E&M was the largest division under the GBC umbrella. During his 10 years with the GBC, the Camps moved to Cumming, and after his December 1998 retirement, they returned to Rome. Their son Stan was contractor for their retirement home and the Camps and their sons opened a new business, Camp Industries, in Rome in 2000.
During his retirement Camp has served New Armuchee and Vann’s Valley Baptist churches in Rome, Trinity Baptist Church in Carrollton, Rockmart First Baptist Church and is currently pastor at Wesley Methodist Church in Rome. He was also a Shorter University trustee and has written for Baptist publications, authored books about minister and church relationships, and served as speaker for churches and youth groups.
Camp said, througout the years, his greatest reward has been being able to bring people closer to Christ.
“I’ve been able to serve the Lord and to serve his people,” Camp said. “For them to receive me and have confidence in me has been an enriching experience.”