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  • 09 Oct 2019 9:37 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    The UMCRM Board of Directors announced this week the selection of Jessica Gamaché as its first-ever Association Director. We are excited about the new potential for our Association under Gamaché’s leadership!

     

    The Process

    Jessica was recommended by the Director Search Task Force after a three-and-a-half month process that began with over 300 initial applicants, saw almost 50 complete the essay and video requirements, narrowed to six phone interviews, and finished the first of October with three candidates interviewed in person. We were blessed to choose from an incredibly strong pool of talented individuals from within the UMCRM & UMC communities and beyond.

     

    The UMCRM Association Director position was made possible last spring by a generous foundation grant that will fund the position in full through 2022 and will phase out by 2024. The UMCRM Board developed the search process and an independent task force to find a person whose skill sets would help the Association best pursue its mission. Hearty thanks to our dedicated Task Force members for their commitment to what turned out to be a pretty time-consuming process: Todd Bartlett (OR), Kim Carter (AR), Abi Fuesler (NC), Pam Harris (NY), Jody Oates (OH), Mike Selleck (GA).  They were asked to recommend to us a seasoned leader to assist our member-driven, volunteer-based association toward our strategic goals of developing the servant leadership and faith-forming capacity of camp/retreat ministry professionals. A profile was developed to help communicate the Board’s priorities of acquiring project and volunteer management skills in filling the position. 

     

    Why We’re Excited

    Jessica Gamaché is an engaging camp and retreat professional with proven success in administrative oversight and fund development in the faith-based nonprofit context. As Camping and Retreat Ministries Coordinator in the Western PA United Methodist Annual Conference for the past eight+ years, she has been resourcing and leading camp and retreat site directors in meeting operational, financial, and programmatic objectives. Through her leadership in Western PA  and her elected service on the UMCRM Board of Directors since 2015, Jessica has earned respect as an ambassador of camp and retreat ministries and as a gifted collaborator. She understands this ministry we all share and its importance as a pathway of discipleship in the Church. Her deep Christian values and strong understanding of organizational leadership, volunteer engagement, and hospitality will certainly be assets to our Association.

     

    Background Information

    Having grown up as a camper, Jessica first came to United Methodist camping leadership as Assistant Site Manager and Nature Resource Guide at Wesley Forest in Central PA. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Resort Recreation Management and a Master’s in Parks and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University. In her most recent role as Camping and Retreat Coordinator for the Western PA Annual Conference, Jessica oversees the Directors of 6 sites, has spearheaded an extensive multi-year, multi-million-dollar capital campaign, worked with hundreds of volunteers, and championed camping ministries in the local church, Conference, and beyond. She was elected as a Northwest Jurisdiction representative to the UMCRM Board in 2012 and has served in various roles, most recently as Board Vice-Chair. Jessica is a proactive initiator at work and in her volunteer service, too. As a volunteer in our Association, she has been a primary driver for the Intentional Leadership Groups, UMCRM Book Group, and Online Volunteer Training, in addition to her contributions to policy governance and strategic planning. We can’t wait to see what she will be able to accomplish when UMCRM is her full-time work and primary focus!

     

    Getting Started

    Jessica will begin her work as Association Director on Monday, November 4th. She will participate in the Great Gathering at Lake Junaluska on November 10-14 and will meet with the Annual Conference Camp/Retreat Staff from across the country at their annual Summit, November 14-16.

     

    Please join us in congratulating Jessica and in praying for her as she and her family embark on this new adventure. You can reach her by email at jessica.gamache@umcrm.org.



  • 09 Oct 2019 7:17 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Bamboo Toothbrushes and Fettuccine Stir Sticks? 

    The Inconvenient Journey to Environmental Sustainability


    Rev. Gary D. Lawson, Sr.



    “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” 

    Galatians 6:9  


    I saw it out of the corner of my eye. I growled a little bit. I was about to go out the door of the camp parsonage to get my workday started. Tough commute: just saunter across the front yard, cross the street, and walk in the office. I opened my door thinking I would just ignore what crept into my peripheral vision. The light in the back room was still burning bright. Was I in a hurry? No. Should an environmentally sensitive camp director ignore an unnecessary light using up needless power? Of course not.

     

    I let the door close behind me anyway, went down the front steps, took two steps through the front yard and hit the old guilt wall. I growled a little bit more, turned around, and did the thing a person of ecological integrity should have done in the first place – turned off that light. Faced that whole “inconvenient truth.” (Whatever happened to that Al Gore guy, anyway?)


    You know, I growl often and sometimes fail to choose the “inconvenient,” Creation-friendly action. I am betting that you, reader, can relate. Would you go back? Would one unnecessary light bulb bother you? I guess I hope that it would. Overcoming those little inconveniences in my home will not save the world, but I want to think that it makes a difference if all of us hit that guilt wall occasionally and turn around in response to a sacred calling to care for God’s Creation. 


    It has been a few years now since I penned an early UMCRM blog post entitled, “From the Giving Tree to Meatless Mondays: A Memoir of a Sacred Calling. At that time I shared my calling in outdoor ministry as a “caretaker of holy ground,” and the struggle to make the changes needed for Lakeshore Camp and Retreat to be a leader in caring for creation.  Just about everything we implemented in those days met with intense initial resistance, but those attitudes have mostly given way, and the “change curve” has leveled out toward normalcy. The occasional summer staffer will still try to sneak in a meat-based burger on Meatless Mondays, but they try harder to keep it to themselves. (Little do they know that we camp leaders have bigger eyes in the back of our heads than their moms do.)


    So, the journey to environmental sustainability continues. A few years ago, getting ready to teach in our UMCRM Certification core training, I made a list of over 30 things we had done at Lakeshore on our journey to become better caretakers of Creation. Each change came with a bit of excitement, followed by a bit of growling and inconvenience. I do not know about you, but each little bit of new helps me feel the energy of being the tree hugger some have called me. Each little step feels like faithfulness to that sacred calling as a steward of God’s good Creation. 


    Maybe, like me, you are the victim of what the marketing world has coined “The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility.” It is the law that says that our excitement will lessen the longer we experience something. The moral satisfaction of adopting a new earth-friendly practice may soon lose its shine. Soon, either we’ve mastered a discipline and the practice has become our habit, or we forget all about it until we crash into the guilt wall. Many times, we just quit those best environmental practices altogether, and the Creation is left suffering as the victim. You have experienced this “law” I mentioned. Maybe you have been out mowing the yard on a very hot day. You finish and head into the kitchen for a cold soda. As you drink it, you think that it is the best soda you ever drank. You grab another. As you cool down, this second soda tastes good also. The third soda, however, probably sits unfinished. Need another example?: Remember that first kiss? Oh my! Remember your last one? That, my friends, is the “Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility,” and if it applies to kisses, you bet it will apply to your energy in attending to all the disciplines and habits you need to maintain and care for the environment in a world that still doesn’t demand it. 


    This post is meant as an encouragement to stay the course in your commitment to God’s Creation in every big and small way. Lakeshore’s latest couple of exciting commitments to Creation care at camp may go in the small category. With the ever-growing problem of plastic, we will be offering our guests a bamboo toothbrush if they arrive on site without their typical plastic one. (Fun fact: each year, if you laid all the plastic toothbrushes used by humanity end to end, you could circle the globe 3 times!) The second is replacing the little plastic stir sticks in the coffee service area with fettucine (or any other sturdy, straight pasta). I mean, come on, they are just going to stir once and throw the plastic in the trash (or, more likely, on the surface in front of the coffee pot, am I right? Growl.)

     

    As for me and my house, we will continue to strive to stay the course while looking for new ways to do ministry with ecological integrity. I am feeling a bit of a nudge about getting rid of my K-cup coffee service in the office and my beloved Mini Moos. (Growling again, over here by the guilt wall.) You know, those constant bits of plastic waste are hard to justify. The journey to environmental sustainability is truly inconvenient. But then, I guess no one promised that following God’s mandate to care for Creation was going to be convenient. Maybe by bearing witness together to that inconvenient truth, we in Camp & Retreat Ministry can stay encouraged about the “utility” of our small, faithful steps. Like the apostle Paul, I exhort you to not grow weary in doing what is right.




    The Rev. Gary Lawson has led at Lakeshore Camp & Retreat Center in Eva, TN since 1992. He's served several terms on the NCRC and UMCRM Board of Directors representing the Southeastern Jurisdiction, and has often served as a workshop leader and faculty member for United Methodist Camp/Retreat Ministry Certification and training events. His deep faith includes taking seriously a call to caring for God's Creation. As we go to publication this week, Gary and his spouse Vickie are actively appreciating God's Creation on an Alaskan cruise.

  • 02 Oct 2019 4:29 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Buffalo to Bays: Moved by Camp!

    by Jeff Wadley, with Whitney Winston


     

    Ribbon-cutting at Bays Mountain, Jeff Wadley centerJust before the ribbon-cutting at Camp Bays Mountain, Director Rev. Jeff Wadley makes sure the finishing touches are in place. Hints of a beloved camp, now closed, are sprinkled throughout the newest addition to Holston Conference Camping, honoring the past and looking to a bright future. At the campfire circle are 63 stones comprising the fire ring, one for each year of ministry held at Buffalo Mountain Camp (BMC). In the dining hall, the mantel from Allison Lodge, where children gathered around the table for meals, is now mounted above the massive fireplace at the new camp. And at the center of Camp Bays Mountain, the bell, moved from BMC, is ready to ring in campers for years to come. The journey of closing one camp and opening a new one is filled with ups and downs, joy and tears, tragic endings, and beautiful new beginnings.


    Standing at the Washington County courthouse steps in 1947 in Jonesborough, Tennessee, the M.H. Allison family purchased 600 acres of mountain land which fell into delinquency for unpaid property taxes by a lumber harvesting company. The Allisons presented an opportunity to the Methodist Church to create a camp for the young people of the region based upon the success of the earlier campmeeting traditions of the area. Local congregations embraced the challenge and opened Buffalo Mountain Camp two years later.

     

    Besides developing a thriving summer camp, the Board of Directors funded and built cabins, bathhouses, a retreat center, adventure elements, off-site adventures, whitewater kayak instruction, partner collaborations, opened the facility for weekend retreat groups, and created an environmental education center for school groups. BMC was thriving. Over many years hundreds of campers made decisions to follow Jesus, and dozens of others sensed a call into ministry at the site. Marriages were performed, baptisms were conducted, and many lives were transformed by the ministry of Buffalo Mountain.

     

    Flood at Buffalo MountainBuffalo Mountain Camp served the East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia regions faithfully until 2012 when disaster struck. A huge thunderstorm developed over the valley and dumped more than six inches of rain in less than two hours, resulting in a flash flood and several landslides. The new pool was filled with debris, several buildings were washed from their foundations, and pavement was ripped from the surface. Plumbing was pulled from the ground, electricity was interrupted, and even the creek was rerouted along its course. When the rain came to an end, the camp staff surveyed the property with broken hearts.

     

    Former staff, congregations, businesses, and individuals from the community offered their assistance. Donations were received to help clean and repair what was remaining of BMC. However, the damage was done. Once hydro engineers, contractors, business leaders, landscape architects, and other leaders collected information, the Board of Directors decided to suspend operations and close the camp. Sixty-three years of fruitful ministry came to a screeching halt. Tears were shed, a decommissioning service was conducted, and a plan was set into motion to liquidate assets and to sell the property.

     

    In the same year as the devastating flood, another denomination ceased operation of their nearby camp and retreat center. The BMC Board decided that camping should not cease, but could be reborn. Once the BMC property sold, assets were liquidated, and the remaining donations from the flood relief were in hand, the Board acquired the new camp property about forty-five minutes away and announced that camping in the United Methodist tradition would continue in the region. From that decision was born Camp Bays Mountain located in the foothills of the mountain by the same name, situated conveniently just outside Kingsport, Tennessee. 

     

    A $4.1 million-dollar capital campaign, led by Director Wadley and the camp’s development team, began after consultation with Kaleidoscope, an architect firm, the City of Kingsport, church leaders, potential donors, and contractors. Now, all but 2% of capital campaign funds are secured, and the anticipation is that the effort will be fully funded by the end of 2019. Camp Bays Mountain exceeded its first two years of summer registrations, serving 578 campers, and has seen over 150 first time decisions, re-dedications, and calls into ministry. Dozens of retreat groups have made Camp Bays Mountain their new tradition. The Board has a master site plan supported by an integrated financial business plan to be a sustainable ministry into the next generation. 


    Opening worship at BaysTo honor the closing of one camp and the opening of a new facility, the Board orchestrated not only a decommissioning service led by Rev. Randy Pasqua (Holston Executive Director,) but a running-of-the- flame event. Jason Onks, former director at BMC, lit a torch at the former camp and began a 35-mile run/walk which involved former staff, campers, board members and supporters. The flame was moved through the countryside and past the courthouse steps where the original BMC purchase was made in 1947. Waiting at Camp Bays Mountain were the very first campers and staff. Anticipating the arrival of the flame from Buffalo, the campers began to sing. In the distance, the flame entered camp and was passed to the director, who started the first campfire at the new site. It was a fulfillment of a dream which resulted in United Methodist camping returning to the upper East Tennessee region.


    The God we serve made a way in a dismal situation and turned a disaster into something blessed and fruitful. The experience of building Camp Bays Mountain has been a faith-building adventure and an exercise in honoring the legacy which the founders of Buffalo Mountain Camp began in 1947. This new camp ministry is now entrusted to the next generation. 




    Rev. Jeff Wadley is Executive Director of Camp Bays Mountain. Prior to joining UMCRM, Jeff was founding pastor of Sycamore Tree UMC in Marysville, TN. He's been instrumental in developing the ministry at Bays Mountain, alongside an outstanding Board of Directors. He welcomed the first campers to the site in the summer of 2018. 



    Whitney Winston is Director of Camp In the Community for the Holston Conference. She began volunteering with the UMCRM Communications Team in fall of 2017. 


  • 24 Sep 2019 12:15 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    A South Carolina ministry site is getting a fresh start and a new purpose. On May 31, 2019, ownership of the former Rural Mission property was transferred to South Carolina United Methodist Camps and Retreat Ministries. Arthur Spriggs, Camps and Retreat Director, said the property was deeded to them in exchange for the relief of debt. “No way we were going to be able to afford such property at fair market value,” Spriggs said, noting the Lowcountry property was not only extremely valuable but attracting much interest from local real estate developers. The site is 5 acres in Johns Island, South Carolina, that sits on a two-mile waterway leading out to the Atlantic Ocean, just 2 miles by road away from the Kiawah public beach. Right now, there are about 40 beds with a dining hall, kitchen, and 3 program buildings.


    The desire was strong to keep the property in the United Methodist family. Rural Mission has a long history and a special place in the hearts of many South Carolina Methodists. Many pastors received their call to ministry while working there, and its five decades of service to the rural poor on Johns Island has drawn thousands of volunteers in ministry from across the nation.


    Spriggs said the site will now be called the Sea Islands Camp and Retreat Center. “Our first priority right now is to get the property secured, then we’ll hold a community meeting, a charrette, which will be a dreaming session of what the property can be,” Spriggs said. “We’ll be inviting community stakeholders, leaders in the area, key folks from the board, the marina folks across the water, etc. It will be a huge planning think-tank session, where we will literally ask the question, ‘What could this place possibly be?’” “We really will take off from that meeting,” he said. “We’re hoping something really cool will come out of it.”


    Also this fall, the Camps and Retreat board plans to host a big thank-you celebration for the former Rural Mission staff. Former Rural Mission Director Linda Gadson, who served at the site for 47 years, stated, “I want whatever happens now to be successful.” Gadson noted she is happy the property is staying in the UMC family. “The most important thing for me is the property was not sold from the people. I pray the property will somehow still be available for local people, then when activities take place they are still a part of it—that they can have access even if not ownership, that the connecting link to the past will still always be there.” 


    Spriggs said he is excited about the future possibilities of mission, spiritual growth, and renewal that will certainly shape the outreach at the Sea Islands site. He’s also extremely excited about the camps and retreat possibilities the property will allow. He envisions being able to bring in small groups for team building exercises, such as obstacle courses and other group bonding experiences. He said the site is perfect for water activities, too, such as sea kayaking and other programs. “That’s the key thing when we signed up for this—to do all we can to make it sustainable and give it our best shot,” Spriggs said. “We’re excited about that opportunity.”




    This article is excerpted from the original by Jessica Brodie, published by the South Carolina Annual Conference Advocate


    Photo credit to Matt Brodie, SC Conference Production Coordinator.



  • 28 Aug 2019 8:57 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    ‘Ere thirty, I learned a lesson profound,

    visiting nursing homes the town around.

    Their mem’ries faded, of what would I speak

    when visiting members older and weak?

    I told stories of self, new to their town;

    but upon my return, many would frown

    with no memory of who I might be.


    Distressed at my lack of pastoral charm,

    I sought to do good and not to do harm.

    So on visit two the Bible I took,

    and found as I read they knew that good book!

    Verses and stories they hap’ly recalled!

    Our communication no longer stalled,

    we would end by reading Psalm 23.


    Their response to me was ere more profound

    when I brought a hymnal. For at the sound

    of the first sung line of “Amazing Grace,”

    they joined me in singing, both tune and pace!

    The hymns learned in childhood, years behind

    were still alive and fresh, lodged in their mind!

    We sang with joy; these parishioners and me.


    ….


    I’ve heard tell that there are numerous studies about music and the brain, though I’m too lazy to confirm. I do know that brain waves synchronize with music at performances, and also that music helps one to focus, study, and learn. I have found that music and associated lyrics linger long in the minds of those who are otherwise slowly losing so much of themselves to dementia. And who hasn’t experienced an “earworm,” a song or partial tune that gets lodged in one’s brain on repeat?! Music demonstrates the ability to impact us deeply; influencing memory, emotion, and even our spiritual formation.


    A church was replacing its decades-old, moth worn hymnals, and one senior member was vocally unhappy about the change. After a few weeks with the new hymnal, this older man was becoming increasingly agitated and upset. Initially the pastor dismissed it as resistance to change, but finally he asked the man, who had come to the church council yet again to complain, to share why the change bothered him so much. After some thought, the man replied:


    “Well, when I was a child, my granddad and I would stand in these pews and share a hymnal, singing the songs out of it. Even now, decades later, when we sing these old hymns I can feel him standing beside me. Now, with these new hymns and their different words, I don’t feel him as much.” (In response, the pastor wisely had old hymnals returned to the pews alongside the new ones, and integrated hymns from both into worship.)


    John and Charles Wesley seized upon the power of music as a key mode of forming faith in the 18th century Methodist movement. Charles Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns during the course of his life, working with his brother John to fulfill their mission to “spread scriptural holiness throughout the land.” Charles penned lyrics that expressively praised God and taught aspects of Christian faith, even setting them to known and popular tunes (though there is some debate over the oft-taught expression that he used “bar tunes”*), some of which we still sing in worship to this day. 


    As he gave guidance to the spiritual formation of the Methodists, John Wesley collected hymns for their use. He included among these collections advice on how to sing! His “Directions for Singing,” including the exhortation to “sing lustily and with a good courage,” are still found at the front of our United Methodist Hymnal. In encouraging one to learn these songs first, and sing them with “an eye to God in every word you sing,” Wesley was drawing upon the innate power of music to help people grow in faith.


    Today, communal singing faces a variety of challenges. It is not as familiar or as accepted as it used to be. Many come to worship and stand quietly while others sing. I’ve even seen the very act ridiculed by some outside of the church. So, why do we still sing, be it at church or camp? It’s certainly not to recall the ancestral account of Noah by chanting “arky, arky!” 


    We sing because it is an expression of our human spirit, connecting with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We sing because the act embodies the spirit of community, whether joining in unison or adding harmony to the melody of others. We sing because our brains respond to it; a person’s whole brain “lights up” in response to music. We sing because it engages our bodies and breath and stirs our hearts. And sometimes we sing because it’s just plain fun! 


    Music both informs and inspires, and can play a vital role in forming faith, as the Wesleys vividly demonstrated. While we might remember part of a pastor’s sermon on Ephesians 2; we are likely to remember the verses of “Amazing Grace,” whether it be set to its original tune or that of the Gilligan’s Island theme. Even more, when we sing the song we might remember the story of John Newton’s radical transformation as a follower of Christ. We very well might recall a Sunday School lesson about God’s love for us, but it might take better root in our inner selves when we sing “Blessed Assurance.” Its meaning will linger all the more when we know Fanny Crosby’s story of faith and perseverance.


    Music plays a role in the formation of life-long faith at camp, too! Children and youth return from our camps with excitement about worship and the lyrics of “Awesome God” fresh on their lips. They come home sharing about a significant moment of introspection (though they might not use that word!) as their group prayerfully sang “Sanctuary” during holy communion. Sometimes their faces will light up in worship and they’ll “sing lustily” a hymn that is old and familiar to the rest of us, but was recently introduced to them in a new and “sticky” way at camp. The songs of camp – including the others we sing just for fun, like “The Belly Button Song” or “Little Green Frog” – take up residence in the hearts and minds of campers. When we can embrace this method of faith formation, our use of music can have a lasting impact on the faith and lives of those we serve.


    We still aim to “sing lustily and with a good courage… and above all… spiritually” at camp. We sing not just to praise God, and certainly not for the performance value; but also for the long-term benefits such action brings to our spiritual growth. May our camp experiences leave us humming tunes of God’s love and grace, messages worth singing for a lifetime.



    *See “Did The Wesleys Really Use Drinking Song Tunes For Their Hymns?” for debunking of this popular myth.





    This is the fourth in an inaccurately described series of three reflections promised by Ron Bartlow on the influence of our Wesleyan heritage upon the spiritual formation that occurs at camp. Portions of the preceding text were sung by trained monkeys in iambic pentameter over the voicemail of UMCRM's long-suffering editor.



  • 07 Aug 2019 3:23 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    The Intentional Leadership Group (affectionately, “ILG”) program is a new avenue, facilitated by our United Methodist Camp Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association, to bring together leaders in supportive community at least monthly to inspire and encourage each other in growth as spiritual leaders of camp/retreat ministries. 


    We choose to belong to an association that enhances the Christian missional effectiveness, vitality, and sustainability of UM camp and retreat ministries across the connection. One pivotal factor influencing whether we will reach this horizon together will be our own intentionality to grow as spiritual leaders capable of guiding adaptive change. As a circle of colleagues, we are and can become even more, a community of leaders committed to a common direction through mutual support of one another in life and leadership. 


    ILGs are designed to provide what many of us long for – a network of colleagues and friends as a source of real encouragement, learning, and energized shared vision as we journey forward together. Each group forms its own unique covenant to know each other, care about each other, and strengthen each other in going deeper both in spiritual growth and leadership while also reaching specific missional effectiveness goals for our own settings of ministry.  An online platform is used so group members from across the country can learn and grow alongside one another.


    Here's what current Intentional Leadership Group members are saying about the benefit they have seen from being a part of their ILG:

    “Great to have supportive people around the nation who understand the struggles and triumphs of camp and retreat ministry. Very helpful to bounce ideas off of.”

    “I enjoyed learning from people who work in a variety of roles in UMCRM and learning about the diversity of programming and opportunities our ministries provide throughout the nation!”


    “I deeply appreciate this opportunity to continue to stay connected with peers outside of my specific geographical location. One of the things I crave in this mainly solitary ministry, are for relationships with others who understand. My ILG are those people. And I'm so grateful for this experience for bringing us together.”


    “I loved connecting with folks from different camps! It brought me really valuable perspective.”


    “The thing I enjoy the most is the community, and having the time to just take a breath and fellowship with others.”


    This year the program has been revamped based on the feedback and recommendations from last year’s group members. We would like to invite you to join a group during the ILG program year that goes from September 2019 to May 2020. You can sign up for a group based on the availability in your schedule by going to this registration page. On the registration page you will be able to see the meeting spots available and who has already joined each group. 


    Are you part of a group from last year that would like to continue meeting during this upcoming year? Let us know by emailing jessica.gamache@umcrm.org. We will then connect you with resources to help your group grow in fellowship and leadership in the coming year. Included in these resources will be new session guides, a Zoom account link specific to your group, along with automatic meeting reminders. 


    We invite you to deepen personal connections and care of colleagues in ministry by being a part of the ILG program. 


    – The Intentional Leadership Group Curriculum Team: 

    Rev. Ron Bartlow

    Jessica Gamaché

    Rev. Chris Kindle

    Geneé Morrison

    Sarah Ratz

    Rev. Kevin Witt



  • 04 Jul 2019 11:51 AM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    By now you’ve likely heard the good news that UMCRM is hiring its first Director! This is something our camp and retreat ministries family has dreamed of since beginning the association five years ago. And now we’re looking for the very best candidate to lead UMCRM into the future of its support of our camp and retreat ministries. You can help to spread the word of this opportunity by sharing this Director Profile.


    Your UMCRM Board wants this search and hiring process to be as transparent as possible. To that end, I’d like to share with you more about the grant funding, the search process, the search task force, and the qualities we’re looking for in a Director for the association.


    The Grant - Funding for this position comes from a grant given by a Foundation that values children, the outdoors, and United Methodist ministries. The Foundation wishes to be unknown in its giving. This is a five-year commitment that will fund the Director’s salary, benefits, travel, and office expenses. Those expenses will be fully funded for three full years, after which funding will reduce to two-thirds in the fourth and one-third in the fifth and final year. This unbelievable generosity and faith in our association will give us the opportunity to establish ourselves more fully and to develop funding to continue the position into the future. The board is deeply grateful to the donor!


    The Process - The UMCRM Board has set a search and hiring timeline that includes an application deadline of August 15th and a projected start date of November 1st for the new Director. The position has been advertised broadly: in our own S’more Mail, through the communicators of each annual conference, through the communications of our sibling associations of the Outdoor Ministries Connection, and through three non-profit job sites: Indeed, Work for Good, and The Nonprofit Times. We’d like to leave no stone unturned in our effort to find the best candidate for the position.


    The Search Task Force - One of the strengths of UMCRM is the ability to draw on the volunteer expertise of our members. To ensure the transparency of the search and hiring process, the board has recruited a volunteer task force to conduct the search, the interviews, and to recommend a candidate to be hired. This Search Task Force consists of three board members, two members of our association, and one participant with denominational perspective. The group includes clergy and laypeople, a range of ages, and varieties of expertise. Each UMC jurisdiction is represented. The task force is co-convened by an association member and a member of the board. It will receive all resumes and collateral material submitted directly through the email, apply@umcrm.org.


    Members of the Search Task Force:

    • Todd Bartlett, co-convener - Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministry, Oregon-Idaho Conference

    • Kim Carter, co-convener - Director, Camp Tanako, Arkansas Conference

    • Abi Fuesler - Student, Brevard College Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education

    • Mike Selleck - Retired, Director of Connectional Ministries, North Georgia Conference

    • Pam Harris - Principal Consultant, Run River Enterprises

    • Jody Oates - Principal Consultant, Kaleidoscope, Inc.

    Please be in prayer for these volunteers as they serve our association. Their work will be confidential and accomplished as a team. Please do not contact Search Task Force members directly; rather, honor the time and energy they have already committed by submitting your resume directly through apply@umcrm.org and by addressing any clarifying questions about the position to me at russell.davis@umcrm.org.


    The Director’s Position - We have never had a Director of our association before. In the absence of a history of the position, it is easy to substitute the faithful performance of those who have served in similar positions. We may recall the way those serving us through Discipleship Ministries performed their duties, or how those in conference staff positions served well, or, perhaps, even the good work of former chairpersons of our association board. Those understandings were definitely where we started as a board in trying to define this new position.


    But as we worked, we realized that the person who will best serve UMCRM moving forward won’t be a traditional executive director or consultant-type. We are seeking a leader who will be able to leverage the expertise of our membership by identifying and connecting that expertise to association strategies and initiatives, and by managing association projects to their successful conclusion. The person we hire will certainly have other attributes as well, but this is a core competency. In short, we’re looking for the “Great Go-Between” instead of the “Great Idea Person.” This is language borrowed from 7 Measures of Success: What Remarkable Associations Do That Others Don't, a research study by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) based on the famous research method used by Jim Collins in the book From Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t


    Two measures from the ASAE study stand out for UMCRM in our Director search: 1) Dialogue and Engagement and 2) CEO as Broker of Ideas. Each of these measures of successful associations fits with our association’s efforts to develop a culture that engages the expertise of the membership in the work of UMCRM. So the idea of hiring a Director who can help the association function better, rather than being the source of expertise or the one who does all the work, is a core value in our search for the best candidate. 


    I hope this is helpful to your understanding of the work of the board these past several months. We want to be transparent in everything we do, but especially as this important work moves forward. As always, I’m available to answer any questions you might have about this exciting time in the life of our association. russell.davis@umcrm.org


    May God guide and honor our efforts to support our camp and retreat ministries across the country…


    C. Russell Davis, Chairperson



  • 26 Jun 2019 5:20 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Forming Faith at Camp the Methodist Way: Enthusiastically Square

    (Methodism’s spirit-filled, structural approach to faith formation)



    My poor campers. It happens every morning at camp (and I mean, every morning)... If the risen sun shining through their cabin windows isn’t enough to rouse them, they have to suffer through the indignity of my overly enthusiastic, off-pitch rendition of this little ditty:

    “I’m alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic!

    I’m alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic!

    I’m alive, awake, alert;

    I’m alert, awake, alive;

    I’m alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic!”

    John Wesley would probably roll in his grave if he heard me! Not just due to my performance (which I admit might distress the dead as much as it does sleepy-eyed campers), but in linking him with the word “enthusiastic.”


    In Wesley’s day, barely a century removed from the English Reformation and its conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism, the term “enthusiast” had become a negative critique. It was used of certain Protestants whose theology or religious practice was reminiscent of the suspect-to-them mysticism of Catholicism. “Enthusiastic” (from the Greek, “possessed by a god or spirit”) was one of the derogatory terms that followed and frustrated Wesley, used by others to dismiss him and the spiritual revival he led.


    Yet here we are today, ministry leaders and volunteers around the nation enthusiastically gearing up for summer camp ministries that will invite participants into a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Indeed, we are fulfilling part of Wesley’s original vision of his ministry, “to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land” (if we, like him, define “scriptural holiness” as the fulfillment of the great commandment to love God and neighbor). Many of us are enthusiastic for the work, enthusiastic to be responding to the call of God, enthusiastic to be partnering with the Holy Spirit to nurture spiritual formation in people young and old!


    In the last decade, my understanding of “enthusiasm” in the religious sphere has become synonymous with appreciation, gratitude, and acknowledgment of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in my life. As a life-long Methodist, I am part of a holiness tradition that has always taken the Holy Spirit seriously; we believe we are a Spirit-filled people; that God’s presence illuminates and motivates our lives and actions. Today, I would say that we are enthusiastically open to the Spirit’s movement and guidance!


    In responding to the movement of God’s Holy Spirit over the centuries, the people called Methodist have formed and followed some particularly sound methods of faith development. In previous blogs, I reflected on our heritage’s emphasis upon holistic faith formation that recognizes the interconnectedness of the spiritual experience. (View “The Third Rule” and “Shoulders & Knees.”) Today I aim to show how, led by the Spirit, we Methodists have developed some distinctive organizational structures for both thought and community.


    First, we are a bit "square" when it comes to theological reflection. While faith is more than belief, belief is still an important aspect of one’s faith; one that is nurtured, challenged, and formed throughout our lives. We do not arrive at a mature system of belief – a deeply held interconnection of thoughts on God, Creation, humanity, Scripture, etc. – instantaneously. We reflect upon what we know of God (e.g. “theology,” or knowledge of God). Traditionally, Methodists approach theological reflection with an understanding of four interconnected, mutually dependent resources, what Wesley scholar Albert Outler named the “Wesleyan quadrilateral”: Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason.


    Methodists are enthusiastic about this spirit-filled approach to theology. We value the Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture; not only for the Spirit’s presence in the past (during the creation and canonization of the scriptures) but also in the Spirit’s presence in the present as we read and interpret. We look to our own experience of the Spirit, discerning where and how God might be speaking a word to us today. We reflect upon what we can learn from the traditions of the church, recognizing that even the Bible comes to us via tradition. Through it all we integrate our God-given capacity for reason, since God did not give us minds just to check them at the door of faith!


    While scholars rightly insist that Scripture is primary for John Wesley, they generally acknowledge that Wesley brought all four elements of this so-called “quadrilateral” to bear in his own theological reflection, and invited others to do the same. For Methodists, these four sides are a Spirit-influenced frame for the lenses through which we read Scripture and see the world; a frame that develops as we grow in faith.


    Our heritage is born from a tradition of Spirit-filled revival, and Camp and Retreat Ministries owe a portion of their creation to the revivalist tradition of camp meetings in the 19th century. Sensing a need for ordinary Christians to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit more directly, camp meetings gathered people together outside of their usual churches and homes to hear the Word of God read, sung, and expounded upon. These experiences very often led participants to make a commitment in response to what they heard. These camp meetings were an experience of the “creative dislocation” I have shared about elsewhere [The Prophet Elijah’s “Creative Dislocation”], and were at least partial progenitors of camp ministries. In such experiences of “creative dislocation,” Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason are experienced by participants in new ways that help form their faith.


    In addition to the stability of our square-ish theology, our heritage is also one of organized community structure. Over time, through practical needs that required logistical organization, the Methodist movement formed a three-tiered structure many of us can recall: Society, Class, and Band. As a quick summary:

    • the Society was the location for preaching and teaching, where a large group of Methodists from the local (Anglican) church parish would gather midweek to hear more teaching about God and faith than they experienced in Sunday’s sermon;
    • the Class was an organizational unit of about 12 that owed its origins to the need to collect money, but became a place for the smaller group of participants to account for their commitment to the three rules (sometimes supplanting the place/role of a band);
    • the Band, with its roots in the Holy Club at Oxford, was a much smaller group of like-minded individuals who went deeper into their faith and behavior, including a focus upon its members’ “backsliding” (penitent bands) or their service as leaders (select bands). Whereas classes were diverse, bands were also more intentionally homogeneous.

    The logic and effectiveness of this structure have enduring merit. The deepening levels of intimacy from Society to Band allow for greater trust and accountability among participants, building relationships that can help foster behavioral change. (Remember, Wesley was early in teaching that behavior can influence belief.) While we can learn concepts and theory in larger groups, to truly embody them we need to practice with the help and evaluation of others. Interestingly, this practical structure was not imagined and devised in advance of the movement, but developed in response to the growing needs of communities yearning to grow in faith.


    Though perhaps not of conscious origin, I have actually seen much the same structure in camp and retreat settings. Many of our events feature times when the large group gathers with featured speakers or special leaders, who teach from Scripture and their own life experience. But we don’t expect the large group gathering to be enough to foster faith formation; we re-gather in “small groups” to further read Scripture and reflect upon it together. Sometimes we see even smaller groupings, where mentoring and leadership development occur.


    I would share one example from my current location in ministry. Two years ago we initiated “Leadership Camp” for a small number (12) of Senior High youth. Each day the youth gather as a large group (Society) for reflection together, learning about healthy leadership from Scripture and other sources. They spend a couple of hours each morning working in pairs to serve, helping lead activities with elementary campers. Half return at a time to reflect upon what they learned and what they did (Class). We don’t, perhaps, get as deep as the “band” level might, but I am blessed to bear witness to their faith and leadership formation over the week.


    Our Spirit-fueled enthusiasm, Wesleyan quadrilateral for theological reflection, and organizational structure may no longer be entirely unique to Methodism, but they were distinct developments of our heritage that continue to guide our efforts at faith formation to this day.




    This is the third in a series of three reflections on the influence of our Wesleyan heritage upon the spiritual formation that occurs at camp, allegedly written by Ron Bartlow, interim Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries in the Desert Southwest Conference and a member of the UMCRM Board. In trying to confirm his authorship we were informed he was “dead, asleep, inattentive, and apathetic.”


  • 15 May 2019 12:08 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

    Forming Faith at Camp the Methodist Way: Shoulders and Knees

    (our holistic approach to faith formation)



    I vividly remember my strangest experience of a camper behavior. My third year volunteering at summer camp, I was warned that a camper, whom I’ll call Bobby (mostly because I cannot recall his real name), had the occasional habit of sleepwalking. But I wasn’t prepared for what happened after lights out that first night!


    After a rambunctious campfire with lots of singing, my cabin of 5th and 6th grade boys was late in settling down. Younger than I am now, I was still in good spirits despite the late hour when I finally laid down to sleep myself. It felt like only minutes had passed (though it was a couple of hours) when I was jarred awake by the sound of a boy singing:


    “Head, shoulders… [pause]

    head, shoulders… [pause]

    eyes and ears and mouth and nose;

    head, shoulders…. [pause]


    Getting out of bed, I found Bobby sitting up in his sleeping bag, his eyes closed. I watched as he raised his hands to the side of his head:


    head, shoulders…” his hands dropped limp beside him as he paused, then came up again:

    head, shoulders…” and his hands dropped limp beside him again.


    Bobby wasn’t sleepwalking, he was sleep-singing! None of us could believe it! I gently woke him up, and once he was aware of where he was he lay down, rolled over, and returned to sleep. (No doubt you can identify what was missing from Bobby’s song. I assume that because his knees and toes were buried in his sleeping bag he simply omitted them from his version.)


    I’m sharing this story not only because I find it a humorous anecdote, but because I want to connect it to our history of faith formation. One of the incredible aspects of our Methodist heritage is that from the start it took pains to approach spiritual formation holistically. For Methodists, the faith in which we are formed is more than just the beliefs we hold.


    John Wesley, founder of our Methodist movement, is often identified as a “practical” theologian. Wesley did not set out to create a well-organized system of belief (e.g. a “systematic theology”); rather, he brought his theological understanding to bear on the real lives of Methodist participants. As he did so, both the theology and actual practices of Methodism embraced an understanding that faith is greater than just what one believes. Faith is an interconnected web wherein the whole person (inclusive of our thoughts, emotions, actions, bodies, and relationships) connects with God, with the communities in which we live(1), and even with Creation at large.


    John Wesley and the early Methodists seem to have understood this deep interconnectedness and built our faith tradition around holistic spiritual growth. Wesley would not have us leave out knees and toes; whether inadvertently because they are out of sight, or intentionally because some deem them of less importance. When John and Charles Wesley and the other members of their “holy club” at Oxford began their methodical approach to spiritual formation, they focused not only on the spiritual, but also the physical. The members of the group naturally gave attention to their personal and communal acts of piety (such as prayer, worship, and even their study of Scripture), but they didn’t stop there. With John’s encouragement, they also made “acts of mercy” a focus of their spiritual formation; they made it a priority to serve and do good to others. They went so far as to do what was otherwise unthinkable in their day, and visited strangers in prison! To this day, Methodists are convinced that the path of Christian perfection, the journey toward spiritual maturity, involves not just spiritual contemplation but also real-world activity. As part of our pursuit of living out the great commandment, we care for one another in ways that nurture body, mind, and spirit.


    I find further emphasis on our approach to holistic spirituality within the lyrics of a lesser-known hymn by Charles Wesley. Entitled “At the Opening of a School in Kingswood,” and published in the 1778 edition of A Collection of Hymns for the Use of The People Called Methodists, the song encapsulates our holistic means of pursuing faith development:


    Unite the pair so long disjoined,

    Knowledge and vital piety:

    Learning and holiness combined,

    And truth and love, let all men see…


    The lyrics may be viewed as a commitment on the part of the singer or as an appeal for God to take action, but in both cases the expression makes clear that a holistic faith integrates knowledge and piety. Mature faith connects what we think with what we do. Methodists have always taken education and action seriously, that is part of the reason why there are both universities and hospitals founded by and still named after our movement. Faith involves belief and behavior, body and spirit. (Indeed, John Wesley’s understanding of the holistic care of souls motivated him not only to open health clinics in the Methodist Societies, but also to write a medical text!)


    I was not only nurtured within, but am an enthusiastic fan of this holistic understanding of faith. Rev. Adam Hamilton, pastor of one of United Methodism’s largest congregations, Church of the Resurrection in Kansas, points out that this approach balances head, heart, and hands, influencing preachers like me to educate the mind, influence the heart, and motivate the will (2). What we think or believe, how we feel, and what we do are all intimately wound together, and healthy approaches to faith formation take this balance seriously – “head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes”!


    Long before the behavioral health movement began teaching it, John Wesley was leading Methodists in discovering that behavior/action can both come first and actually influence belief, thought, and mood. (One might cite John’s experience with Moravian bishop Peter Boehler as the seed of this. Spiritually distraught after his failed mission in Georgia, Wesley was encouraged not to quit preaching; rather, Boehler encouraged him by saying he should “preach faith until you have it; then, because you have it, you will preach faith.”) Whatever the origin, the society and class meetings of Methodism emphasized accountability for participants’ behavior as an important step in their faith formation. When it comes to our Methodist history of faith formation, ortho-praxy (right practice) has always been holistically interconnected with ortho-doxy (right belief).


    &quot;Preach faith until to you have it&quot;


    Other theological principles of our Methodist heritage integrate this holistic approach, too. We often put an emphasis on John Wesley’s articulation of grace as the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives (name the three with me, now: prevenient(3), justifying, sanctifying!), but Wesley's theology was not just about the grace of God given to us. Wesley's theology revolved around both grace and holiness. Indeed, many of the modern denominational offspring of the original Methodist movement are those churches accounting for the "holiness movement" of the 19th century.


    I’ve been coming to better understand the ongoing balance of grace and holiness in my life in this way: I receive with joy and thanksgiving the grace of God and then try to extend that grace toward others, while at the same time the holiness of God inspires my personal pursuit of holiness. (Although I can’t directly pinpoint this articulation in Wesley’s work, this is how I have internalized his teachings: I expect much of myself, and seek to extend much grace to others.) As my faith grows, I grow both in what I receive and in what I give.


    Once again I can observe and celebrate that this holistic approach to faith formation is an integral part of many ministries of The United Methodist Church, our camp and retreat ministries included. Consider how at camp we often…

    • …embrace experiential learning. We regularly balance learning with doing. Camp curricula integrate modern pedagogical insight to teach to multiple learning and/or emotional intelligences. Worship leaders invite participants into worship experiences while also teaching about why we do such activities. Camps integrate active service projects alongside Jesus’ teaching that we are to love our neighbors.

    • …debrief, bringing theological and psychological insight to bear on camp activities. Before, during, or after campers face their fears and climb the rock wall or step off the zip-line, we lead them in reflection on the action and its relationship to other fears in their lives. So many of our camp and retreat center staff expertly help to connect a camper’s experiences during the day to larger themes of self-esteem, personal development, and faith formation. It’s what you do!

    • …care for the camper’s physical safety and comfort as an integral part of their experience of spiritual formation. Come on, how many of us haven’t heard that the food was one of the best experiences campers had during their week? Many of our staff can cite Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in relation to the work we aim to do with faith formation. Even if we can’t, our staff seem to intuitively know that we must meet basic physical and psychological needs – helping campers feel safe, cared for, and that they belong – before we can help nurture their experience of deeper formation of faith and self.

    • …encourage new behaviors in the expectation they will inform belief. I’m among those who look at the zip tower and assert that there is no way I can do that; but, with encouragement, I have stepped off the edge. (Twice, for the record. And that really is enough.) Some leaders encourage their campers to keep a gratitude journal (writing down things they are grateful for) recognizing that writing what we are thankful for can actually influence a sense of gratitude. Homesick campers can be encouraged to think of what they want to have happen during their week at camp, and in contemplating their hopes they help vision them into reality.


    These are just some of the ways that our camp and retreat ministries realize our Methodist approach to faith formation. Like the intricately connected joints in our shoulders and knees – where ligaments, muscles, nerves, and bones work together with our conscious self – we strive for interconnectedness in our efforts at faith formation. We balance head, heart, and hands; we aim to unite “knowledge and vital piety;” we integrate belief and behavior together as we seek to inspire formation in faith. We look to the whole of a camp’s experience as part of God’s ongoing work in and with us, to help participants pursue holistic faith formation.


    Happy camping, Methodists!



    Footnotes:

    1. When Wesley writes, “I know of no holiness but social holiness,” it is his assertion that our faith, and any formation we experience in that faith, is deeply entwined with others. John Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems (1739), Preface, page viii: “‘Holy Solitaries is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than Holy Adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion, but social; no holiness but social holiness.”
    2. This three-fold saying is not original to me. I do not have a notation of the original source, but many others have used this handy alliterative phrase.
    3. Wisely advised to utilize this oft-used modern term for the first movement of grace in Wesley’s theological articulation, the author still wishes to point out that Wesley’s “preventing” (by which he means the movement of grace before, e.g. pre-, the event of justification) would be in better keeping with the verb form of the other two.



    About the author:

    This is the second in a series of three reflections on the influence of our Wesleyan heritage upon the spiritual formation we seek to nurture at camp. Author Ron Bartlow insists he has some level of expertise to share these ideas with our UMCRM community. This entry, handwritten on a saloon napkin, was delivered to our offices wrapped around the leg of a sorely aggrieved jackalope.



  • 01 May 2019 8:13 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)


    Dear Camp and Retreat Ministry friends and colleagues,


    As many of you may have heard by now, the United Methodist Judicial Council made some important decisions last week. My hope is this letter will inspire you to seek an understanding of how this moment in our denomination’s path will impact your ministry setting and those you walk beside in mission. 

    Need some more context? Following the called Special General Conference in February, the Judicial Council, United Methodism's "Supreme Court," was called upon to rule on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan approved by that General Conference. Read more from United Methodist News Service

    First, I would like to share my understanding of the Judicial Council Decision 1378. Of the 15 Traditional Plan petitions that were passed in February at the special called General Conference, eight were ruled constitutional and seven were ruled unconstitutional. The parts of the Traditional Plan that will be implemented as church law, effective January 1, 2020 (and later in 2021 for the Central Conferences – outside of the US) will bring a more detailed definition of what it means to be a “self-avowed, practicing homosexual” to the Book of Discipline, mandate specific penalties for clergy who violate the rules around conducting same gender unions, and provide clarity on the parameters of the complaint process. The parts of the Traditional Plan that will not be implemented include: tighter accountability for Bishops, stricter requirements of Boards of Ministry (example – conducting an examination of each candidate to ascertain whether an individual is a practicing homosexual), and mandated financial penalties for Annual Conferences that are not in compliance with requirements around human sexuality. An additional decision was passed (Decision 1379) and declared constitutional allowing local congregations and clergy to enter into a disaffiliation agreement for “a gracious exit” from the denomination.


    The effect of these decisions is being felt in various ways and at varying degrees across our camp and retreat connection. There is not one correct interpretation or plan for moving forward that applies to all of our UMCRM sites. However, in order to truly come alongside one another in this next season of ministry, it is vital that we stay in relationship with our local communities and in healthy, compassionate, open-minded communication with the leadership of our Annual Conferences. Gracious communication about these matters and an unwillingness to criticize those with whom we disagree are necessary to the integrity of our collective ministry. I would also like to hold up the opportunity of finding support and counsel in your UMCRM colleagues as we navigate the course together.


    As this journey continues, I hope that we can all remember these important sentiments:

    • Although there is a divide within our denomination, this divide is not between people who love Jesus or people who believe in the Bible and those who do not love or believe. No, it is a divide between Christ-following people who have come to different interpretations about how the Bible is to be read and applied. Our role in camp and retreat ministries is to be a place for all Christ-following people (and those who do not yet know Christ), where they can have the space to come to their own understanding of God’s mysterious and wondrous plan for their life.
    • Within the congregations that we serve, all across the country, there is a wide diversity of people with equally wide perspectives and convictions. By our camp and retreat centers being safe, sacred places set apart from everyday life, we can be a source of inspiration for others to become more attentive to the diversity of thought that surrounds us. Through worship, play, and relationship, people from a variety of perspectives and experiences are together, practicing living in holy community. This is an honest expression of sharing the truth that “You are loved.”
    • Finally, United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries will continue to have a crucial and wonderful ministry to offer to the world for the sake of Jesus Christ, in a unique way that no one else can. We can’t shy away from proclaiming the importance of our ministry. Now is the time to find courage to reach out to donors and find new ways of promoting your ministry so these holy places of “creative dislocation” continue to grow in the future.

    James 5:16 – “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.”


    I am with you in this, friends, and I pray for you daily. Together, let’s continue to pray for our denomination, Bishops and Cabinets, local church leaders, congregations, and one another. Let’s pray for continued guidance along this complex route which we find ourselves traveling, giving thanks that we are traveling it together. I am grateful to be alongside you in this journey.


    God bless,



    Jessica Gamaché
    UMCRM Board of Directors, Vice-Chair



    Jessica Gamaché is the Camping Coordinator for the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. She has served on the UMCRM Board since 2015. 


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