The Outdoor Ministry program of the Wisconsin Conference:
Some wonder about the future of Christianity. Some wonder at the future of the church. Some wonder about the structure of the family. Our United Church of Christ camps give us an answer. It is one of resounding hope and promise.
I was the Director of the Mom and Me camp at Pilgrim Center [now Daycholah Center], a three-day event that hosts Mom’s and their kindergarten through second-grade child. I was able to observe and behold the Christian community in action.
I saw counselors watching for the “outcast” Tenderfoot camper, placing them in the center of acceptance. I heard songs of thanksgiving for bounty and goodness sung by 140 people of all ages at meal times. I observed vespers of the Junior-highs around the fire pit, where curling smoke was a veritable sign of prayers going forth into the world and into the heart of God. I saw the grace of Senior High campers dance an interpretation to the glory of God’s word and deed. And I watched with thanksgiving as they encouraged and applauded our first grade violinist as she shared her gift of music for the mealtime prayer. I was overjoyed with the heartfelt dialogue of 14 Moms as they talked of their own faith, their struggles and hopes for their children and families. I heard of the importance of their faith journey. And I heard love for their Savior, Jesus Christ.
One of the greatest gifts I received from this week of camp, was from the “Me’s.” After a full day of activity and camaraderie we gathered, children in their pajamas, Mom’s in their tiredness, to listen to a story and share a bedtime prayer. I asked the children if they would like to offer their familiar bedtime prayers. What indescribable, heart-tugging joy filled us grown-ups! In very deep and abiding reverence, they enfolded to their small chests assorted stuffed animals, folded their hands and lifted their prayers. One at a time in variety and similarity: “Now I lay me down to sleep ….. Our Father, who art in Heaven …… If I should die before I wake …..God bless Mommy, Daddy, my sister and my brother …… Thy love to guard me through the night ….. and God please bless all those people we don’t know …..”
There is much to concern us over the future of the church. I know that. But this week, I was assured that the church is alive and well. It is tended and nurtured by those gathered at Pilgrim Center. It is the example of the gathered community who shares, learns, loves and does what it can in the name of the One who loves them most. Jesus Christ. What an indescribable gift that is!
May you be filled with the same Spirit!
Peace and blessings,
Pastor, Washington Reformation United Church of Christ, Monticello
Daycholah Center Camp and Retreat Center
W1010 Spring Grove Road
Ripon WI 54971-8647
Moon Beach Camp and Retreat Center
1487 Moon Beach Road
St. Germain WI 54558