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No new notes from me... too busy!
Maybe one of these years, I'll get a vacation and be able to wax philosophic about camp life...
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PEACE BY PEACE (From a sermon given by Barry on 2.26.06)
Aloha! Shalom! Be Still. Agape. Ubuntu. Heiwa. PEACE!
Our summer theme and our focus at Camp Bethel all year for 2006 is “Peace by Peace”: Colossians 3:15. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” This verse describes the attitude of peace that Christ gives. This attitude is to “rule” in all our human relationships.
This attitude, this lifestyle is reached step by step, OR “Piece by Piece.” Ah, get it!
And this, of course, is our approach to teaching PEACE at Camp Bethel:
Peace as an attitude; Peace as a life-skill; Peace as a commandment;
Peace as a multi-faceted process that is inseparable from Christian living!
I’d like to share with you a brief outline of the summer curriculum; this “step-by-step” process, piece by piece:
Once again, Aloha! Shalom! Be Still. Agape. Ubuntu. Heiwa. PEACE!
Piece ONE: Genesis 18:1-8; Abraham and Sarah show unconditional hospitality to visiting strangers; and it turns out that these strangers are, in fact, God.
So our first type of peace is Aloha: Peace through hospitality.
The Hawaiian word, “Aloha,” is used as a greeting upon both arrival and departure. It means peace and emphasizes a welcoming spirit. It also has that sense of intimacy in face-to-face relationships; the breath of life that connects host and guest. And in the framework of that face-to-face relationship, peace may be experienced. Campers are welcomed into the camp community. ALOHA!
Piece TWO: Genesis 1:1-2:3: God creates the world with intention and love.
Our second understanding of peace is Shalom: Peace through connecting to God’s creation.
Shalom is a Hebrew word that means peace. Like aloha, it also is a word used in greeting and saying good-bye. But shalom is a word that encompasses more. It also means harmony, completeness, wholeness, well-being, even salvation. It is a description of the world as God intends it to be. So God’s act of creating the universe was an act of shalom. In this way peace and creation are invariably linked. Campers learn to care for the creation just as they care for one another. SHALOM!
Piece THREE: Mark 4:35-41: The disciples and Jesus are in a boat on the Sea of Gailiee; a furious storm whips up, and Jesus calms the storm, rebuking the wind and waves, saying, “Quiet! Be still!”
So our third look at peace is Be Still: Peace through faith, trusting Jesus to calm the storm.
In situations of conflict, faith that Christ will provide the resources we need helps us to weather these storms. Campers practice ways to deepen their trust in God’s care. BE STILL.
Piece FOUR: Luke 6:27-36: Jesus commands us to “love our enemies”
Our fourth type of peace is Agape: Peace through actively loving our enemies; a radical grace!
Agape is a word that means God’s unconditional love. Jesus invites us to love everyone in the same way God loves us. Campers learn to greet all people with God’s unconditional love. AGAPE.
Piece FIVE: Acts 2:41-47: describes the beginnings and joy of the early church. This community of the early church shows us a community where faith and reconciliation go hand in hand.
Our fifth understanding of peace is Ubuntu: Peace through God’s model of reconciliation.
Ubuntu is a South African word for peace that has its setting in community. Ubuntu is described it as a culture of peacemaking. The word reconciliation comes to mind. Ubuntu societies are based on the common good, not on self-interest, accumulation of wealth, and the competitive drive for power and resources. Campers practice ways of peace through life together in community. UBUNTU!
Piece SIX: Luke 4:16-21: Jesus reads from the prophet Isaiah and proclaims that God’s message of peace and justice is fulfilled in him. Jesus proclaims a new era; the year of Jubilee.
Our sixth type of peace is Heiwa: Peace through suffering servanthood.
Heiwa is a Japanese word for peace. Its two syllables describe aspects of living peacefully together. “Hei” means equality, justice, balanced states, and harmony. “Wa” means softness and represents “a state in which people are not striving.” This view of peace is just what Jesus is calling us. Campers learn and understand ways they can become peacemakers in their own communities. HEIWA.
Sounds pretty good, huh?
Our hope with this curriculum is that these youth and children might understand PEACE in a deeper, more authentic way than maybe we older generations do.
Is this a radical idea? Even though our conscious minds know that peace is a Godly expectation; and even though we’re taught from day-one in Sunday school to “Love our enemies”; why is a Peace Curriculum still considered a somewhat radical idea in the church establishment?
One reason is that a mention of Peace is often dismissed as commentary on our country’s current politics; taking sides, so to speak.
Another probable reason is that the word “Peace” evokes different sentiments from different generations:
Some of you might hear the word PEACE and remember V-E Day or V-J Day.
Some of you might hear the word PEACE and remember the 60s and Hippies and protests and some of the conflicts within our own communities in those days and the images of helicopters and that rooftop in Saigon.
Personally, growing up in the 70s and 80s, very much afraid of the nuclear threat, I wished for PEACE between the USA and USSR. I clearly remember Ronald Reagan’s warnings about the “evil empire.”
We watched peaceful protest triumph in the fall of the Berlin wall, and we watched peaceful protest brutally smashed at Tien Min Square.
See how the generational difference, the difference in life experience and media exposure can alter our expectations of Peace and Justice?
A rock-and-roll fan from the beginning, I remember being very inspired and excited during July of 1985 by huge international Live Aid concerts that raised 40 million dollars for Ethiopian famine relief.
Spurred on by our dreams to save the world, that same summer my buddies and I attended the massive Peace Rally in Salem’s Longwood Park, a rock-concert event staged to raise money for local peace activism. The event brought in about… 17 dollars, I think, but we DID get to act cool for a day and wave signs and throw Frisbees. What? You don’t remember this? Oh come on now, there were at least 20 or 25 people there… ?
Again, see how the generational difference, the difference in life experience, can alter our expectations of Peace?
Let’s focus now on the next generation; these youth and children here today. What will be their understanding of PEACE?
Luckily these days, Peace Education is fairly wide-spread, both in the church and beyond. And luckily in most Brethren churches, Peace Education, (meaning, PEACE as a way of living) is an understood and accepted part of our total Christian Education. For us as Christians, we know that PEACE is a direct result of Christ’s love in action: loving our neighbors and loving our enemies
What a great time to be alive in the church! For us it IS the year of Jubilee: every year! The scriptures clearly demonstrate that Jesus’ world expectation of peace is social, economic, and political, as well as spiritual.
We can no longer pretend that our individual actions are of no consequence to other people.
We can no longer pretend that it’s OK to ignore the poor and oppressed.
We can no longer pretend that our extravagant living doesn’t cause oppression in other countries.
We can no longer pretend to be isolated and say, “It’s OK for me to take care of just me and mine.”
We can no longer ignore our neighbors; next door AND three thousand miles away.
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did for me.”
Our world getting smaller and smaller is a good thing; becoming more and more involved in this Global Society is a good thing. Instantaneous global communications is a good thing; we can know sooner and react sooner, and react better. Kids I-M-ing with friends in other continents is a good thing. As our world gets smaller and smaller, I believe it has greater potential to become that world that Jesus describes in Luke 4:18-19, “Good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed: the year of the Lord’s favor!” PEACE, CHRIST’S PEACE is not just a plea to end warfare. As we are the hands and feet of Jesus, Christ’s peace is your love in action.
And folks, it’s time for action! 1st John 3:18 reads, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Example: Tony Campolo (Christian author and speaker) says that responding to “the AIDS crisis in Africa is a brilliant opportunity to show our brothers and sisters there that our Christianity is not just talk; we demonstrate that God has a solid grip on our hearts.”
Example: You may have heard that 5 EYN Churches (EYN – the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) have been attacked and damaged during riots and protests of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Stan Noffsinger writes, “We need to be remembering our Nigerian church leadership in the quest for bringing about interfaith peace in these times, and for the members of each EYN community affected, as they reach out to the families who have lost loved ones in this round of violence.”
Noffsinger reported that EYN recently created a Peace Education Committee at its headquarters in northeastern Nigeria. Stan also said, “Times like these test the fibre of a newly founded program, and our understanding of the gospel.”
I say times like these also test our fibre as disciples of the Prince of Peace. If we truly claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, then we are called to response, to action, to truly live out Christ’s peace which supposedly rules our hearts. So how do we respond?
How do we respond to images of starving children?
How do we respond to the realities of environmental degradation?
How do we respond to the AIDS pandemic in Africa?
How do we respond with our flagrant abundance to those in poverty?
How do we respond to American Military Casualties in Afghanistan? 266 dead, 685 wounded.
How do we respond to American Military Casualties in Iraq? 2286 dead, between 17,000 and 48,000 wounded.
How do we respond to numbers of Iraqi Civilians reported killed by military intervention? Between 28,501 and 32,119.
How do we respond to world-wide chants of “Death to America”?
How can we respond to discussions and challenges with our own brothers and sisters here in the church?
Aloha. Shalom. Be Still. Agape. Ubuntu. Heiwa. PEACE.
“Peace on Earth” was proclaimed at Jesus’ birth.
His life and teachings were all about Love in Action.
His death and resurrection for us is God’s act of reconciliation with us, (a peace offering, if you will), and we should live and act like we are thankful for this! “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Again, Colossians 3:15
If all Christians truly let the peace of Christ rule our hearts, what a wonderful world it would be, eh?
So, these youth and children here today: What will be their understanding of PEACE?
If we do our job well, (at Camp Bethel, in our churches, in our homes and families), teaching the peace of Jesus Christ, to this the next generation, their understanding of PEACE will be able to change the world… …the year of the Lord’s favor…
I am hopeful that these youth, and all generations to come will hear the word “PEACE”, and their direct association with the word is “Jesus Christ.”
I am hopeful: I am soooo hopeful, that today’s generation of youth and children will let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts.
Aloha! Shalom! Be Still. Agape. Ubuntu. Heiwa. PEACE.
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Want to take action? Want to respond? Sign the pledge at http://www.one.org/ today!
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readers since 2.28.06
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“A dispute arouse among [the apostles] as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘… the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.’” - from Luke 22:24-27
THE ONE WHO SERVES
This is a dangerous article. Read on at the risk of being exposed to the heat of a Camp Bethel staff currently on-fire and filled with a renewed excitement and zeal for your camp ministry. You have been warned.
As your camp staff, we are employed in dangerous positions of servant leadership and holy hospitality. Dangerous because without self-discipline, there is a high risk of debilitating burnout. We increase our risk of burnout when we begin to lament our perceived lack of resources, (“Oh, if only we had more help-money-time-energy-etc.”). Pastors, teachers, social workers, camp staff; all those in positions of human services are constantly at risk of serving for the wrong reasons. Service becomes dangerous when we judge our work by our own, worldly standards. Service becomes dangerous when we serve for the sake of status, as if to judge our own greatness by our servitude.
Even the disciples, those who were closest to Jesus’ message, often focused on issues of rank and status and disputed openly about their personal levels of greatness. At these times, they lost sight of Jesus’ new system of values: a system of humility, service and sacrifice. By proclaiming, “I am among you as the one who serves,” Jesus urges and exemplifies servant leadership: a trait as uncommon and risky then as it is now.
Chandler Brown described the danger of service by writing, “…a way of life based on seeing what one can ‘do’ for others, for the less fortunate and the depressed, can be a pretty destructive process. Until we know ourselves, and therefore have a ‘self’ to give to others, we have nothing to give except a mass of unconscious motives and forces, many of which may well be as death-dealing as they are life-giving. When we have consciously found who we are in relation to ourselves and others, then and only then are we able to ‘serve’ others in a healthy, viable way. Service then becomes an inner response stemming from our own reality rather than an externally imposed ‘ought’.”
Luckily, I was recently reminded why I am called to serve at Camp Bethel. In a blistering but beautiful sermon to assembled Camp Leaders, Reverend Reggie Blount crooned, “Somebody prayed for you! Somebody prayed for you! Somebody prayed for your camp! Somebody prayed for you! Your mother prayed for you! Jesus prayed for you! Jesus prayed for your camp ministry! JESUS prayed for you! SOMEBODY PRAYED FOR YOU!” and it hit me and filled me up and came gushing out… Knowledge of decades of love, time, money, sweat, tears, songs and prayers that have been poured into Camp Bethel… Visions of the thousands of patrons, campers, volunteers and supporters who give so much of themselves to Camp Bethel… That knowledge, that reminder from Christ himself lit me up and has been burning hot ever since!
Most persons reading this article are faithful supporters and volunteers who, to put it mildly, LOVE Camp Bethel. For those few readers who don’t know Camp Bethel we have a declaration: “Camp Bethel is a GREAT place to be!” (Remember that old catch-phrase? If you never got one, we still have dozens of bumper stickers available with that assertion.) Camp Bethel has a great history, a great location, great food service, great staff, great volunteers, a great O.M.C., a great summer program, great facilities and grounds, and great year-round events. Camp Bethel truly is a GREAT ministry. GREAT because our service here is an inner response stemming from the Love, Sacrifice and Service of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ example as The One Who Serves and his model of true servant leadership makes service burn-out impossible, because it alters our need for perceived greatness. To paraphrase an oft-quoted line, we will “ask not what others can do for us; ask what we can do for others.” We will not worry about what the District or the Denomination should be doing for us. Instead, we will ask how we can better serve the District, the Denomination, our supporters, our campers and our guests.
On February 2, 2005, we, the Camp Bethel Staff recommitted ourselves to servant leadership through “whole and holy hospitality” (Romans 12:11-13) including the following actions: To be in active prayer for our guests and our supporters, because “Somebody prayed for us”; To uphold each other on camp and District staff as the Body of Christ; To constantly work toward improving our methods, our policies and this site; To be reliable and solid stewards of God’s gifts of money, facility, land, work and time for the Virlina District; To actively pursue peace with creation through globally and environmentally sound practices; and to approach each task in the Spirit and Love of Jesus Christ, “The One Who Serves”.
In this our 78th year of ministry at Camp Bethel as we prepare to re-dedicate ourselves and this site in its entirety to continuing the work of Jesus Christ (on Saturday, April 30 at 1:30), and as we prepare our summer camping programs with the theme, “The One Who Serves,” we invite you to join us as we joyfully, patiently and faithfully serve God’s people who are in need. I hope that you too will catch fire with the shared excitement of servant leadership! Until then, know that we are in active prayer for YOU.
Yours in Christian Service,
Barry LeNoir, director
and the Camp Bethel Staff:
Susan Chapman, program director
Tim Clemons, maintenance manager
Fonda Wilson, director of food services
Ruth Hess, registrar Volunteers: Sarah Hackney, Molly Knobbe, Matt Rucker, Jay Shatzer
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posted February 2003
Rewards for Service: Responding in the Yucky Present
to be Appreciated for 100 Years
“Service is the rent that you pay for room on this Earth.”
-Shirley Chisholm, the first African American U.S. Congress-woman.
Within your District are fortunate adults whose enthusiasm and satisfaction with life continues to mysteriously increase. They seem to have achieved greater emotional harmony, and seem to have endless energy for Christ’s service. Future generations will sing about them around countless campfires. Before we talk about being appreciated at Camp for 100 years, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.
First: some bad news.
The economy is in the pits. And the trickle down from Federal to State to Local has arrived in our churches and our denomination as a cold, muddy flood of fiscal Yuck. Pretty soon, we faithful taxpaying citizens could see our dollars we hoped to spend on local programs, helping the homeless and funding renewable energy research used for regime change in an oily desert.
In times like this, charity and philanthropy become scarce, hiding behind the hopeful return of the “Me-me-me” late 1990’s. What’s more dreadful is that the Gospel can coolly be put on hold until it’s “easier” for us get off the couch and work for God. (“Don’t worry,” says the voice, “your old church camp will always be there. Someone else will volunteer. Someone will pay off the debt; someone always does.”)
Your District’s camping ministry is an endangered program.
We’ve all heard the idea that ninety percent of the church’s work is done by ten percent of the members. Likewise, we’ve heard that ninety percent of the giving to the church is from ten percent of the members. The same rule applies to your District’s camp: Ninety percent of the help is from ten percent of the district. What if we changed the rules? What if involvement increased to forty, even fifty percent of the members? How many more people would come to know Christ through camping ministry?
With what little television and radio reception I get here at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains I get a sense that television producers, news shows and Presidential sound-bites want us to think better days are just around the corner. So we sit back and wait. And wait. Until… Until someone does something about it. Meanwhile, your District’s camping ministry needs more volunteers, more money and lots more earnest prayer.
Now the good news: Your church camp IS still there and so are YOU.
These days, most every camp is under-funded. And it’s in the hardest of times when the people of God step up to the challenges that face them. No matter what your age, skills, physical abilities, or financial standings YOU can serve Christ through your District’s camp. If you are looking to make a difference in countless lives, serve Christ through your District’s camp. If you always wanted to join BVS, Peace Corps or Ameri-Corps but never found the right opportunity, try a service that’s just as helpful to our society: serve Christ through your District’s camp.
I realize that because you are reading this article I am preaching to the choir. You’re probably part of that ten percent of the hard workers I referred to earlier. Like me, you’re probably stretched thin over your duties at home, work, church, (and maybe even camp). We are so busy with what’s urgent, we lose sight of what’s important. We become captive laborers, and even our service to God might be put on hold until it’s “easier” to find time. Our service becomes a burden instead of a joy. We can be like slaves to our busy, “urgent” lifestyles. (“Don’t worry,” says the voice, “Someone else will take care of the camp. Someone always does.”)
In the letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul provided guidelines to slaves and masters, an ugly reality in the days of A.D. 60-ish. To those slaves, he wrote, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving Christ, not men, because you know that Christ will reward everyone for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (Ephesians 6: 7-8.) Uh-oh, I know what that means: NO EXCUSES. No matter how thinly we are stretched over our busy lives, we are called to serve Christ wholeheartedly. To deny His call is all but impossible, since the need is obvious and the opportunity is as close as your District’s camp.
Now comes the part about being remembered at camp in 100 years. When the weight of the world begins to put a strain on the viability of your District’s camp ministries, will you wait for someone else to help or will you wholeheartedly serve? We need only to recall the faith and sweat of our predecessors who founded our churches and established our camps. In 100 years, what will our grandchildren’s grandchildren recall about us? Will they thank God as we do today for the vision and service of those who came before, or will they never know the blessings of church camp?
I urge you to commit or to re-commit to service to your District’s camp. Sarah Patton Boyle, a U.S. civil rights activist and author, wrote, “Service... is love in action, love ‘made flesh’; service is the body, the incarnation of love. Love is the impetus, service the act, and creativity the result with many by-products.” We are promised that “Christ will reward everyone for whatever good they do.” Ask anyone involved in volunteer work at your camp about their rewards. Volunteering our resources to our camps showers benefits on us we may never have expected. When we give generously, Christ rewards us with an increased sense of self-worth which increases our general happiness with life. Time after time, day after day, the rewards for our service increase exponentially.
Serve your camp with your volunteer presence: call your Camp Director and he/she will have a volunteer need. Serve your camp with gifts: gift a special offering because you can and consider increasing your giving. Serve your camp with prayer: pray earnestly and wholeheartedly for the life-changing ministries offered at camp. Your reward is guaranteed, (Ephesians 6: 8), and you may even make it into a song, sung around some future campfire at that blessed place we call Camp.
Barry LeNoir, 33, is the Director at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Virginia, the Virlina District’s camp. Enthusiastic about his work, and grinning with satisfaction for life, he still finds time to write epic songs about his wife, Angie, his son, Zander, and Camp Bethel’s faithful volunteers. Barry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.campbethelvirginia.org.
posted November 2002
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“…Jesus took with him Peter, James and John… and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’”
-Matthew 17: 1-13 (NIV)
The miraculous day of Jesus’ transfiguration on Mount Hermon was paramount in the disciples’ lives. The transfiguration remains one of the greatest “Mountain-Top Experiences” in the history of Christian Camping. (Yes, Christian Camping! Remember how Peter asked to pitch three tents?) Two other significant Biblical “camping ministry,” mountain-top experiences were Moses’ forty-day Sinai Adventure, (Exodus 24: 12-18), and Elijah’s overnight Mount Horeb Caving Challenge, (1 Kings 19: 8-15).
The transfiguration “day camp” described in Matthew 17 provided five dynamic lessons for the disciples’ ministries: 1. a confirmation of Peter’s earlier confession of Jesus as the Christ; 2. a revelation of Jesus’ present and future glory as the Son of God; 3. an uplifting experience after Jesus’ discouraging lesson predicting His death; 4. a renewed relationship with Jesus as their friend and their Messiah; 5. a culminating display of God’s plan for human salvation.
Wow. All that in one day, in one experience, on one mountain. One could argue that it all came together that day for Peter, James and John. Moses appeared, representing the law of the old covenant and the promise of salvation. Elijah appeared, representing the preparation for the coming Messiah. Jesus appeared in his full glory as the Savior. Everything they had learned before was wondrously affirmed, and everything they would encounter later would be affected by their “mountain-top” experience.
Do you remember the day it “all came together” for you? Do you remember the day you realized that a life in Christ was meant for you? I remember my “mountain-top” experience. It all came together for me at… (yes, you guessed it) …SUMMER CAMP. It was not during a speech by the Camp Director; it was not during a Bible study; and it was not during a campfire worship. Instead, the relationships I developed over the week with people and place had opened my heart and mind for a meeting with God. High atop Bear Mountain with my group, in the midst of the sweet, wild forest, God whispered into my conscious, and suddenly it all made sense. Ever since then, all I have encountered and tried in life has been shaped by my “mountain-top” experience. Over this past year, it has been delightful to hear from so many of you how Camp Bethel helped provide a similar decisive Christian Camping experience. God’s sweet, wild classrooms are imprinted on our hearts: worship on Vesper Hill; prayer and meditation by the Big Spring; revelation and transfiguration along the hike to Horseshoe Bend.
It is glorious to consider how God may have influenced thousands of children and adults who have passed through Camp Bethel’s gates since 1927. It is truly awesome to imagine the hundreds of thousands who will come to Camp Bethel in the future, perchance to meet with God in the mountains.
I am convinced that God reserves the sweet, wild places of this Earth for direct communion with us. Again and again in the scriptures, God finds open hearts and minds in those who seek “a place apart” to meet with God. These “mountain-top” experiences rarely occur in a parking lot, on a college campus, on a city street, or in our insulated, comfort-piled, automated, indoor suburban worlds. When was the last time you touched God in the cool water of a mountain stream washing over your hands? Or felt God’s presence as you faded into sleep, snug in your sleeping bag beneath the subtle glow of starlight? When was the last time you prayed out of doors? Are you aware of the stunning beauty and potential of our new property at Camp Bethel?
In the 1920’s, Camp La Monte and later our Camp Bethel began as the vision of our predecessors who were coping with the increasing influence of modernization and city expansion. They wanted their children to experience God in the outdoors, in “a place apart.” Their early Christian Camping programs were rustic, minimalist, work-intensive, nature-focused, highly active, and often overcrowded because of their exploding popularity. Our early camp leaders intentionally steered us toward God’s sweet, wild places. They understood the power of a mountain-top experience. I know they would applaud our decision to purchase our new Trailblazer Two property.
I have now hiked through, around and above all 427 acres of Camp Bethel. I have walked up through Horseshoe Bend, looked down on Bethel from Great Valley and Iron Mine Overlooks, and trekked back down Curry Creek and Spec Mines Trails. Being so new, I have never known Camp Bethel NOT to have 427 acres.
The most prominent image in my mind of our camp is the unspoiled view from beside the old Crowder house looking over the hayfields toward the mountains. My mother claims it is, “The most beautiful view [she’s] ever seen.” What do you envision when you think of Camp Bethel? Have you expanded your focus to include not just what has been, but what can and will be? If you could stand looking up into our new property, I am sure that you, too, would imagine the future “mountain-top” exchanges between our children and our God.
In a way, we are progressing from the valley back to the mountain; from the old to the new. We are progressing from Jacob’s Old Testament dream and proclamation of faith, (“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God..,” Genesis 28:17), to our New Testament revelation of Christ’s glory on the mountain as described in Matthew 17. We are progressing to include what has been at Camp Bethel and what can happen with our Trailblazer Two expansion. In the midst of newness, it’s crucial that we provide opportunities for changed lives through Christian, “mountain-top” experiences and that we hold on to what never changes: God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.
Moses and Elijah appeared to the disciples with the transfigured Christ on the mountain-top. For Peter, James and John it was the ultimate day of Christian Camping. Two thousand years later, we should take our own lessons from their experiences. Moses, Elijah and Jesus Christ: each was given someone to continue his work. Peter, James, John and the disciples established the church to continue their work. In 1927, our predecessors established Camp Bethel to further the work of Christ’s church. Now it’s our turn; now it’s our time.
As your Camp Manager, I urge you to renew your commitment to our camp. Volunteer for any of our many needed tasks. Visit your camp and tour the new property. Promote your camp to your churches, families, and friends. Pledge generously to our Trailblazer Two fund, and help us progress toward the mountains. For in the words of the peoples’ response in the Service of Dedication for Camp Bethel, July 4, 1927,
“There should be a hill country in every life, some great uptowering peaks which dominate the common plain. There should be an upland district, where springs are born, and where rivers of inspiration have their birth. I will lift mine eyes unto the hills.”
Camp Bethel Director
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