History of the Restoration Movement

Joseph Franklin Camp


Biographical Sketch On The Life Of Franklin Camp

FRANKLIN CAMP, born at Munford, Alabama in 1915, began his initial days of preaching in 1935. He was preceded by a family history of gospel preachers, his father and grandfather both having been pioneer preachers. He attended David Lipscomb College.

Camp preached at Munford, Alabama, Park Avenue, LaGrange, Georgia, and East Gadsden, Alabama. He was with the Shades Mountain congregation in Birmingham, Alabama, for over ten years.

He served for sixteen years as a member of the Board of Trustees of Alabama Christian College and spoke on college lectureship programs at Alabama Christian, Freed-Hardeman and David Lipscomb.

He served as co-editor of the First Century Christian and editor of The Word of Life. He was the author of two books, Old Truths in New Robes, Volumes one and two. He published a book on the Holy Spirit.

He passed from this life in 1991, and is buried in the city cemetery in Munford, Alabama where many family members and friends now wait for the day of the Lord.

Power of a Good Example

Gus Nichols, beloved minister of the church in Jasper, Ala., preached in a meeting in Munford, Ala., in 1937. During the meeting, he stated that he had studied the Bible five hours a day for twenty years. Franklin Camp, a young fellow, heard that statement. He decided that if a man of Brother Nichols' ability needed to study the Bible five hours a day, he needed to study it even more. He started then to spend at least six hours a day in Bible study. He goes to his study at four-thirty or five o'clock in the morning, because he has learned that early morning is the best time for meditation. He believes that his greatest responsibility is to study God's word in order to be able too teach it to others. Think of the example of Brother Camp, who has studied the Bible six hours a day for twenty-three years! Franklin Camp has been invited to deliver the 1961 series of lectures on preaching at David Lipscomb College in January. It is my hope that his example will encourage the many young men at Lipscomb and those who read this article to study the Bible more. Brother Camp now preaches for the church which meets at 620 Hoke Street in East Gadsden, Ala.

-Willard Collins, Gospel Advocate, March 31, 1960, page 200

Joseph Franklin Camp

Franklin Camp, a much-loved and respected student and teacher of the word of God died Monday, May 21 after a brief illness. He was 75 years old. News of his death saddened Christians across the nation. This brief account will note some milestones in the life of this faithful Christian whose work influenced so many through more than fifty years of preaching and writing.

Joseph Franklin Camp was born June 9,1915 near the foot of Cheaha Mountain at Hopeful, Alabama. His family moved to Munford in 1921. His father, Benjamin Franklin Camp, preached at Munford and ran a store there. As a youth, Franklin heard the preaching of S. P. Pittman (who baptized him at age 14), S. H. Hall, Gus Nichols, and others who came to preach in gospel meetings. These brethren were guests in the Camps' home during those meetings.

Franklin entered David Lipscomb College in the fall of 1934, where he formed a friendship with Willard Collins that would last a lifetime. Franklin Camp preached his first sermon June 9, 1935, at Campbell Crossroads, Alabama. The following Sunday he preached at Munford.

On February 27, 1937, brother Camp married Hazel Howell. They walked hand in hand for more than 54 years. The Camps had four children -- Frank, Vivian, Paul, and David It was also in 1937 that brother Camp began preaching regularly at Munford. That yea, brother Gus Nichols came to Munford for a meeting, and brother Camp learned that brother Nichols studied about five hours a day. He decided that he needed to study six hours a day, and for most of fifty years, he woke up early to get to the study where he did the work that enriched his life and preaching. At Munford he worked in his father's store, and ran it after the elder Camp died. In 1938, he started preaching daily on WHMA in Amiston. Many were converted, and congregations were established as a result of that program. Those were the days of "brush arbor" and tent meetings, and brother Camp preached frequently in those open-air gatherings. One account sent to the Gospel Advocate told of crowds sitting in the rain to hear the gospel preached by brother Camp. He preached in stores and houses, wherever the opportunity arose. Congregations in Talladega, Lineville, Piedmont, Pine Hill, and other communities were established as a result of brother Camp's work during those Munford days.

In 1947, Franklin and Hazel Camp moved to LaGrange, Georgia where they worked for two years. In 1949, they moved to East Gadsden, Alabama, to work thirteen years with the church there. Many were converted as a result of radio preaching in Gadsden. A dark page of the Camps' life was written at East Gadsden was on September 13, 1951, when their daughter Vivian died after being burned in an accident.

In 1962, the Camps moved to Birmingham to work with the Shades Mountain Church of Christ. Brother Camp preached there until 1971, when he left local work to devote full time to writing and lecturing, supported by the Adamsville congregation and others. In 1976, he began working with the Adamsville church, teaching a Bible class beginning in Genesis designed to trace the scheme of redemption through the Bible. He continued that class when, at nearly seventy years old, he returned to East Gadsden in 1985 for another two and a half years in the pulpit. He left Adamsville with a standing invitation to return, which he accepted in mid-1987. Brother and sister Camp moved to Moody, Alabama (near Birmingham) where they spent the remaining years of their life together. His class at Adamsville continued through 1 Timothy chapter one, when he taught for the last time on May 5, 1991. He also preached that Sunday morning at Adamsville.

Brother Camp wrote several books and tracts. He wrote regularly for brotherhood papers. He edited three papers. He was an annual favorite on the Freed-Hardeman and Lipscomb lecture programs for years, and he spoke regularly on many others. It is probably not possible to count how many meetings, radio programs and sermons he preached. The two works that brother Camp believed were his most important were the tapes of the Adamsville Bible studies, and his Monday preachers' classes. The classes began in 1955 at East Gadsden and moved as he moved from place to place through the years. The class met at Leeds for the last four years, and met for the last time on Monday, May 6, 1991. Three generations of gospel preachers were helped and encouraged by this class during the 36 years it met.

After open heart surgery in 1981, brother Camp enjoyed relatively good health during the last ten years of his life. He gave careful attention to exercise and diet. In the last two years, he experienced some difficulty with his sinuses that caused him to cancel some speaking engagements. He entered AMI Brookwood Hospital in Birmingham for lung surgery Monday, May 13, 1991. After the surgery, he remained in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit for eight days. He died early Tuesday morning, May 21. His funeral was conducted at Munford Wednesday, May 22. His body was laid to rest in the family plot of the old Munford cemetery.

At the 1981 Freed-Hardeman College lectures, brother Camp was honored with an appreciation dinner. Many speakers told about different parts of his life, including his nephew Winfred Clark, to whom we are indebted for many of the early details of brother Camp's life related here. In his remarks at the end of the ceremony, brother Camp was typically humble, crediting his wife, family, friends, his preacher students, and congregations where he worked for encouraging him. He said he was grateful for what had been said honoring him, and that he wanted to lay that honor at the Lord's feet. He said, "My life's ambition is to be able to meet Jesus Christ the Son of God in the world beyond, and lay it all at his feet. . . I would be happy if you would forget about me, and think about the Savior, who came to live and die, and love, and teach us all what life is really about" We who lived with him, learned from him, and loved him will honor his request to give God the glory, but we will never forget Franklin Camp.

-- Michael B. McElroy, World Evangelist, Vol. 19, No.12, July, 1991, p.1,19,

Franklin Camp
by Willard Collins

On May 22, the body of Franklin Camp, 1915-1991, was carried back to Munford, Ala., his boyhood home, for burial. He died in a Birmingham, Ala., hospital from complications following surgery for melanoma, a deadly form of cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Hazel, three sons, Frank, Paul and David, several grandchildren, two sisters and one brother.

There was a great outpouring of friends in the building of the Munford congregation for the funeral. On the previous evening, hundreds poured into the funeral home at Leeds, Ala., where he had lived the last few years.

Four devoted friends had a public part in the service. Michael McElroy, regular preacher at Leeds, and Bobby Duncan, preacher at Adamsville, Ala., spoke. William Woodson and I led prayers. Camp's favorite songs were used.

Hazel, his companion in marriage for more than 50 years, said that at the beginning of the service she was in tears because of sadness, but before the close, she was joining with the congregation in song because of her hope and great expectations. The service was truly uplifting and wonderful.

Camp was my friend for 57 years, and during many of these years, he was an advisor and trusted counselor. Here is my friend as I knew him.

He really trusted God, whom he loved with all of his heart. He loved Jesus who died to save him. He was a student of the Bible. From 1937 until he died, he had a goal to average six to eight hours a day in Bible study.

My friend enjoyed laughter. From our days as college roommates to the time of our last visit together, we enjoyed many moments of joy and laughter.

He was my kind of preacher. He proclaimed, defended and lived the Word from a tender and loving heart. He abhorred the egotistical and lived in humility. He crucified greed and enjoyed the simple life without demanding luxuries. He trained hundreds of gospel preachers. McElroy, minister at Leeds and Camp's close neighbor, student and friend, described his work thus: "And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul taught Timothy to teach others who could teach others. This was the idea behind Franklin Camp's preachers' class, a weekly gathering of preachers and other Bible students.

The classes began at East Gadsden, Ala., in 1955 and met over a period of 36 years wherever the Camps made their home. Hundreds of gospel preachers studied with Brother Camp through the years, many of them driving long distances each week to be in class. Many who could not come listened to the tapes.

Brother Camp was a man of deep humility who shunned praise and gave credit to others. But his family and others close to him knew that he considered his preachers' class one of his most important and effective opportunities to serve the Lord and His church. The class was an ongoing study of the Bible.

Brother Camp studied hours each week in preparation for it. He would usually give the class a sermon outline or two and say with a grin, "Now you've got something to preach next Sunday." Many of his students did preach those sermons, but they knew that he expected them to study for themselves. Brother Camp did not "spoon feed" his preacher students; the class was designed to stimulate discussion and personal study. He wanted his students' convictions to rest on God's Word, not his own.

Bobby Duncan, who preaches at Adamsville, Ala., said, "Few men in modern times have had as clear an understanding of the scheme of redemption as Franklin Camp."

Describing the work at Adamsville, Duncan said, "About 13 years ago, Brother Camp began teaching through the Bible on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights at Adamsville. He began in Genesis and went all the way through the Old Testament in about 460 class periods. He then began a similar study or the New Testament and had covered down to I Timothy in about 400 lessons. These lessons were tape recorded and will bless generations yet unborn."

A close friend for more than 20 years, William Woodson wrote. "1 knew him well and loved him much. He was a great preacher. great because of goodness and good because of greatness. His life reflected his heartfelt commitment to Jesus. He could be trusted in mailers of confidence: he cared about people; he was kind in his estimate of Others and his awareness of human limitations and failures. His judgment was balanced and compassionate: his friendship was given freely and cherished deeply. His love for the church was evident to all who knew him. He was loved and respected by brethren, especially in his beloved Alabama. His friendship was warm and wholesome, his laughter was contagious. His numerous contributions to my life will be remembered with love. God blessed those who have known the Fruits or his genuine Christian life. We look forward by God's grace to being with him and with all the redeemed in eternity."

Editor's Note: I was privileged to be among the young preachers encouraged by Franklin Camp. As a student at Alabama Christian College, I was inspired by his Visits, lectures, and classes. During my first local work at Ragland, Ala., I often visited him at Gadsden, and he gave me my first opportunities to do radio preaching by filling in for him when he was away. I have read and profited from his published works. He encouraged me when I became editor and wrote many excellent articles. Now as a forerunner, he beckons us to heaven.

BY WILLARD COLLINS Gospel Advocate, October, 1991, pages 46,47

Franklin Camp Goes Home

Monday morning, May 21st, Franklin Camp left These realms for those realms above the bright blue. He gave almost 76 years preparing for this event. He passed the threescore year and ten by six years. He was born in a little place that will be known to but a few folks on this earth-Hopeful, Alabama. Not long after his birth his parents moved to Munford, Alabama, where his father preached for many years. When preachers came to that community for meetings, they lived in the Camp home. Franklin Camp met some giants of our brotherhood. None influenced him more than brother Gus Nichols.

In 1934 he entered David Lipscomb college, where his roommate was Willard Collins. An association and friendship began there that would last for the rest of his life. It was fitting that Brother Collins would be there to lead the prayer at the funeral service. He preached his first sermon, not many miles from the place of his birth, on June 9, 1935. He married Hazel Howell on February 27, 193 7. She was a devoted and devout wife. Four children were born to that union. There are three sons, Frank, Paul, and David. There was one daughter, Vivian, who died at age6.

He did most of his local work in the state of Alabama, including Munford, Gadsden, and Birmingham. For the last several years he worked under the oversight of the elders of the Adamsville, Alabama, church. He taught Bible classes regularly and preached on occasion when brother Bobby Duncan was busy elsewhere.

He wrote several books. The best known and most widely read was "The Work of the Holy Spirit." Its content will show the depth of study he put into this subject. It enables one to gain a better grasp of God's scheme of redemption. He sometime differed with good men, but he would not allow this to alienate him from them. His aim was not to launch a crusade but clearly to define truth. This he sought to do in everything he wrote or said. One great joy of his life was the "preachers' class" he conducted for over 35 years. It met each Monday, and many men drove over a hundred miles to attend. Younger preachers received sincere encouragement and valuable lessons from these classes.

His funeral was in Munford, Alabama, where he preached for many years. Brother Mike McLeroy and Bobby Duncan conducted the funeral service, with Brother Willard Collins leading the prayer. The assurance and Christian dignity of that service were truly sources of great consolation. Any of us who were there will remember it as a fitting climax to a life of one who only wanted to be known as A SERVANT OF THE LORD. Brother William Woodson," along-time friend, was there to pray with the family and to say good-bye to a friend, relative and brother. We look forward to seeing Franklin Camp again some glad morning.

-Firm Foundation, Winfred Clark, 1991, page 6

Location of Franklin Camp's Grave

Franklin Camp is buried in the small town of his birth, Munford, Alabama. East of Birmingham take Exit 185, Oxford/Anniston Exit. Turn south and go 9.2 miles on Hwy. 21. Turn right on Main St. You will pass the Munford Church of Christ on the right. Continue on Main St. cross the Railroad tracks and the road splits. Stay to the right, going down behind the old building facing the tracks. and turn right on Jennifer. Go 2/10 miles on Jennifer and turn left on Cemetery Circle. As you bear to the left you will begin seeing the Camp family markers on right. Also buried in the cemetery is Franklin's father, Benjamin Franklin, and grandfather William Joseph Camp, both of whom were gospel preachers.

While in the area, be sure to visit the grave of Camp's nephew, Winfred Clark.

The actual GPS location of the grave of Franklin Camp is: 33°32'03.8"N 85°57'17.2"W / or D.d. 33.534388, -85.954784

A Servant Of Jesus Christ

Hazel Howell Camp
August 18, 1916
December 9, 1998

Joseph Franklin
June 9, 1915
May 21, 1991

See Franklin's Father B.F. Camp

See Franklin's Grandfather Uncle Joe Camp

Jimmy Clark Discusses The Camp/Clark Family Preachers - mp3

History Home

History Index Page