Brian Frick is the Associate for Camp and Conferences Ministries with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has been involved in camp and conference ministry since high school. For the past ten years, Brian has served as program director of Johnsonburg Center in New Jersey, Westminster Woods in California, and Heartland Center in Missouri.
Camp and conference ministry compliments and partners with other ministry aspects of our church to foster faith development and reflection. As our communities and our church changes, our ministries need to grow and adapt with creative and emergent programming and leadership to meet new realities.
These blogs entries, though varied, are intended to spur thought and conversation around the opportunities and challenges before us.
Year after year, when you ask the younger generation (Gen X-current generation) what are the most important issues of our time they want adults to deal with and that they will focus on - they will tell you the state of the environment - care for God's creation. Yet time and again, when generations grow up, they get jobs, care for their families, and except for choosing who to elect (in some cases), their day to day life reflects more of their parent's way of life in regards to the environment and little changes. Of course this is a generality - not a blanket statement for all members of each generation.
School systems have realized this and many in the 90's and continuing into the 2000's (where budgets allowed) supported Environmental Experiences away from the class rooms at classes and environmental learning "schools" where their students could get their hands dirty, touch the earth and learn about the eco-stystems they profess to care for.
Many Presbyterian camp/conference centers have jumped in and offered these schools and trainings in the fall and spring. Helping to fill space in shoulder months and capitalize on the beautiful slices of creation they are.
Why has this not been incorporated into the food we serve, our summer camp programs, and our adult programs? Many of our centers are down doing just that - I featured Johnsonburg's gardening experience recently and now want to share what Stony Point is living into as part of their new identity and experience.
Faithful Feasting - When Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase began their call as co-directors of Stony Point, Rick commented that meal times were "Pigs at the trough" instead of faithful feasting. In an attempt to appeal to adults with great hospitality, food became a focal point of the Stony Point experience in the 2000's.
That has transformed into an intentional Faithful Feasting program. Fresh produce grown organically by volunteers (community members as well as Stony Point volunteers) are a part of meal times. Vegetarian meals are featured and meat is served in moderation.
I loved it! As a Kansas City resident who loves a good medium rare NY Strip or a "fall off the bones" rib Bar-B-Q - I was hungry to embrace and experience this new eating experience. It was fantastic! For the 4 days I was at Stony Point for their board meeting, I committed to a vegetarian diet and did not miss meat one bit! I hope to be able to continue that at home and share it with my children.
I look forward to my next trip to Stony Point for the same, delicious, environmentally conscious meal. What a faithful statement.
What about you? Where do you live out your faith through your food? Some don't eat meat because of the killing of animals, the concern for animal treatment at industrial farms, or the antibiotics and hormones that may be present in our food chain.
For me it's about the environment (cows are the number 1 producer of green house gasses - they belch constantly emitting methane which is worse for trapping heat that CO2 by a huge amount). Cows are not addressed in reducing greenhouse gasses! How odd but how would you regulate it?
What can you be doing at your centers, in your personal life?
Living our faith (preach always, use words when necessary) is one of the most impressive things we have an opportunity to do as centers. A way to lead our church in action and an example to all of what it can mean to be a faithful Christian as well as an environmentalist. What would Jesus do? What would Jesus eat? What steps, large or small, can you make this year to apply faithful feasting to your program?
Find out more by visiting www.stonypointcenter.org or talking to Rick, Kitty or the community of volunteers that now lead Stony Point into a new reality.
Don't just thing about it our give it lip service - DO IT! Live your faith. Eat your faith.