Monday, July 21, 2008

Camp Krislund update

July 2008

Dear Presbyterian brothers and sisters,

We write to express our grateful appreciation for the generous support which many of our congregations have already pledged toward our Funding the Future Campaign at Camp Krislund and your participation in Krislund’s Summer Camp program. We also write to offer this brief status report.

As we write this letter the most important and faithful expression of the Camp’s ministry is in full swing: our summer camping program. Krislund Summer Camp is again this year a vital program. Because of the financial stress on the regular program budget, Steve Cort has taken on the extra responsibility of serving as the Summer Camp’s program director. We appreciate his devotion and commitment to the summer program. Under his leadership a team of counselors, junior counselors, adventure coordinators, kitchen staff, life guard and nurses have been gathered to serve the almost 700 young people who will come to Camp. Of these campers, many are on full scholarships.

At the same time our plans for the future growth of the camp are underway in response to your generous support of our Funding the Future Capital Campaign. Your financial support for this effort has been remarkable. We are very grateful for the Coordinating Teams in each presbytery, the many campaign advocates in our churches, and the many elders who have responded to our presentations and solicitations at your session meetings. Thus far 94 of our congregations and many individuals have pledged more than $1.8 million to the Funding the Future Campaign. Of course, the Campaign continues.

In proper stewardship of these abundant gifts, we have already taken significant steps to address the most pressing financial need of the Camp, but the least glamorous aspect of our campaign. We have paid more than $460,000 toward our land debt. We expect that our commercial land debt with NorthWest Savings Bank will be completely paid this year! This is the first major component of our campaign. Gifts from our Funding the Future Campaign are not intended to pay off our other significant land debt which is held by the Synod of the Trinity. Our presbyteries will hear more about the restructuring of our Synod loan as these plans develop.

Under the leadership of our Director of Development and Maintenance Kent Rishell, we have accomplished a remarkable amount of legal and administrative infrastructure work in preparation for new construction at Krislund. We have received authorization and permits from both Centre County and the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection for our proposed construction. This allows us, first of all, to move forward with the two major infrastructure demands of any new construction: water and sanitation. With an estimated cost of $170,000, we expect the Camp’s new water system to be installed this fall. After satisfying stringent environmental regulations, our new well has been drilled and the system is ready to be installed. This new water system will completely replace the old system and will be large enough to include any and all of our future new construction. The next step, to be accomplished in 2009, is the installation of our new sanitation system. This is an additional system which is necessary to support all our new construction. Our current, state-of-the-art, natural sanitation system will still be used as it is now, but it cannot be expanded to include any new construction.

Of course, any project the size and scope of our Funding the Future Campaign will face obstacles and challenges. Our biggest challenge thus far has been the concept of new adult housing at the Camp. This, we know, is the most exciting and visible element of our campaign. Our new adult housing will allow us to move our Camp’s ministry and mission into bold new directions reaching many more people all year long. But the concept of one large adult lodge attached to the back of the existing retreat center has proved untenable because of construction and environmental-impact costs created by its sweeping design. Thus we have formed a Design and Construction Team to consider other options for adult housing at the camp. (Please call Mark if you are interested in joining the work of this team.) Conceptually, this team has decided to take a step back and consider again any and all options for adult, year-round housing at the Camp given our theological vision of ministry, the restraints of the legal and environmental regulations and the financial constraints of the Funding the Future Campaign. This effort will move forward with careful discernment.

As our Funding the Future Campaign has developed we sadly learned that our creative plans for an “omni building” can not be included within our current campaign. Thus our plan for this multi-purpose building which will support our Summer Camp program and also offer flexible, indoor recreational opportunities all year remains a dream. Given the success of our Funding the Future Campaign we hope there will be energy and enthusiasm to move forward with this dream in the future.

Our plans, hopes and dreams for our beloved Camp Krislund are bold and big. We have appreciated your generosity and support. We hope all our congregations will join us in creating a camp and conference center that in all its ministry and mission loudly proclaims the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Presbytery of Carlisle Presbytery of Huntingdon Presbytery of Northumberland
Executive Presbyter General Presbyter Executive Presbyter

Mark Englund-Krieger Joy Kaufmann William Knudsen

Friday, July 18, 2008

Response to Newsweek, "What He Believes"

To Newsweek magazine;

I appreciate your effort to understand the faith of Barack Obama, but as usual your view of Christianity is simplistic and narrow. Newsweek magazine, along with almost all the dominant public media today, refuses to acknowledge the rich diversity and multiple expressions of Christian faith in America today. You seem only interested in measuring and evaluating Obama’s faith through the lens of evangelical Christianity. By that measure, his journey of faith seems unique and different. But since Obama came to faith and was baptized in the United Church of Christ would it not be more appropriate to see him as standing within the long tradition of mainline Protestantism in America? The tradition of mainline Protestantism is as old as our nation itself and must be distinguished in important but subtle ways from modern evangelical theology. Mainline Protestantism today still represents a huge swath of American Christianity including such classic denominations as the United Church of Christ (and its antecedents), my own Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Episcopalians and the American Baptists. Of course, we share the same Christian faith with our evangelical brothers and sisters, but the differences in worldview, patterns of faith development and spiritual culture are significant. These differences are especially important when discussing the religious faith of Abraham Lincoln. The Christian faith of the society in which Lincoln lived was dominated by the mainline Protestant churches. Much of Lincoln’s reflection on and response to religious faith can only be properly understood against the backdrop of mainline Protestantism. The same week Lincoln was in Gettysburg to offer his “Address”, he attended worship in the town’s Presbyterian Church. Our Gettysburg Presbyterian Church still marks the pew where he sat. (Decades later, this is the same church where the Eisenhower family was very active.) Since your reporters and researchers seem committed to following every footstep that Obama has walked, it would be convenient for you to walk across the quadrangle from the Law School to the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, chat with the faculty there, and educate yourselves about the fullness of American Christianity today. Barack Obama is right at home in our tradition of mainline American Protestantism, and we are proud to claim him. By the way, John McCain seems very comfortable in our tradition as well, and we are also proud to claim him.