Friday, September 30, 2011

Report to the Presbytery September 27, 2011

A Spiritual Commitment to Camp Krislund

I must tell you that I have fallen in love with Camp Krislund. And over these years I have poured blood, sweat and tears into Krislund, and, of course, I am not the only one. My friend and colleague, Joy, the General Presbyter of Huntingdon Presbytery, likes to tell the story about me from about October 2005. We were both at a monthly Board meeting at the Camp. I had started this position in July, and this was, if I remember correctly, only the second time I attended a Board meeting. I remember taking Joy aside after the meeting. Joy had only started her position with Huntingdon some months before I started here. I said to Joy, “There is a lot of work to do here. I think I need to spend some more time here; what do you think?” She smiled and agreed, saying, “I think we both do.” Indeed, many of us have poured blood, sweat and tears into Camp Krislund for these years. Look at the reports you have in your packet on both summer camp and our financial situation. I am very proud of what we have accomplished at Camp Krislund.

I want you to know that I struggle with this deeply. I pray a lot about whether this really should be the way I spend so much time and energy. I wonder and pray if it was a good decision for our Presbytery to make such a massive commitment to this Camp. Joy and I have had this conversation with our other colleagues around the state. On several occasions when all the Executives gather for our support group together, I have brought up this topic of Camps. Indeed, I have brought up this topic in conversations I have had with Presbytery colleagues all across the church. What we are doing here is increasingly rare. Many, many presbyteries are abandoning their camping ministry, and selling their camps. Many Presbyteries are pulling back from putting energy, leadership and time into their camps. So I struggle with the fact that we are doing something different; and in my position, I am doing something very different than many peers.

I want to be very clear: I am all in for Camp Krislund. I believe it is an essential piece of our ministry together as a Presbytery. I believe Krislund is one of the vital connective links in our Presbytery. I believe that Krislund is one of the reasons why our Presbytery is a high trust, highly functioning, healthy system. I have a dream that Krislund may be a sacred space and blessing for church leaders throughout our congregations.

I have in my hand now a letter that is truly one of the most wonderful letters. It is from the Centre County Planning Commission telling us that we have permission to commence construction on our Krislund cabins. Indeed construction will begin on October 3. My mind is boggled at how difficult it has been to satisfy all the government regulations for this project. Now it is ready to go.

I hope you know what this means. We will be building at Krislund twenty cabins to provide adults a comfortable place to stay at camp; no bunk beds, no shared bedrooms. These cabins are beautiful. We have had one proto-type built and delivered to Krislund already. It is sitting in the parking lot at camp. We are ready to go with the site development which will include a new sewer system to service these cabins, the electrical plan to provide power to each cabin, the specifications on all the plumbing to hook up the water and sewerage, and we have a taskforce working to identify and create a budget for all the little things we need in each cabin like shower curtains, towel bars, bath mats, two Adirondack chairs for the front porch, a small writing table and some wall decorations. Each cabin is one room, with two double beds, a full bathroom with a shower stall, a fabulous front porch, air conditioning and heating. The cabins will be connected by asphalt walking paths to the retreat center where we will have all meal service and meeting space. It will be a great facility.

What am I asking for today? Today I am asking for a financial commitment to Krislund. You can see that we are proposing continuing our support for Krislund in our Presbytery budget for 2012. We will soon be asking our congregations that have not done so yet and who are able to make a financial commitment to this project. As soon as we payoff the construction loan that we will have for this project the sooner we will put Krislund on a solid, sustainable financial path.

More important today I am asking for a spiritual commitment to Camp Krislund. We want Krislund to be a spiritual retreat center. Our children and youth summer camp at Krislund, which is a stellar program, is secondary and supplemental. I believe that our rental services, which are growing, are supplemental. First of all, most of all, we want Krislund to be a sacred space where we can go to relax and breathe deep of the presence of the Holy Spirit. We want Krislund to be a place that is truly a source of blessing, renewal and peace for all our Church leaders. We want Krislund to be a spiritual retreat center for us.

Joy and I are working on the concept of a 24 hour retreat. When our cabins are available we expect to schedule a 24 hour Presbyterian leadership retreat at Krislund every quarter, thus four times a year. A 24 hour retreat starts with lunch. This means that even for our folks in McConnellsburg, Chambersburg and Gettysburg you do not need to leave very early in the morning to get to Krislund by lunch. Our 24 hour retreat will have lunch together, all afternoon to program and gather, dinner together, evening time together, a night sleep in the cabins, possibly some very early morning time together for those who like me enjoy the morning, breakfast, program and gathering time through the morning and ending with lunch. Then everyone can be back home by 4:00 in the afternoon; 24 hours at Krislund. We hope to create these 24 hour retreats to renew, enrich and bless our spiritual lives together.

A 24 hour retreat for pastors or elders or deacons or clerks or women or men or couples or youth leaders or any variety of church leadership. A 24 hour retreat which may be a Bible study retreat or a spiritual retreat, or a sermon writing retreat, or an educational retreat or a support group retreat or a planning and visioning retreat or a book reading retreat or a silent retreat.

I am asking you to make a spiritual commitment to the future of Krislund. Starting with our pastors, I am asking you, over the next three years, to participate in at least one church leadership retreat at Krislund. Give Krislund one chance to be a blessing and support for your ministry. I know that most of our pastors have never been to Krislund. If it does not work for you, I understand. Krislund is not for everyone. But please, every pastor, give Krislund one chance to make a difference in your ministry.

What we are doing at Camp Krislund is beautiful. Thank you for your abundant support.