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.
I found this in another blog and it so moved me, I wanted to share it here. It really hit the nail on the head for me in a way I could share with others in a way that did not sound "self-serving" for a camp and conference professional.
BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: We have a segment today on going into the wilderness to experience the presence of God. John Lionberger is a former atheist who had a profound religious experience on a wilderness trip. Now an ordained United Church of Christ minister, Lionberger leads others looking for their own experience of the holy. Lionberger is the author of “Renewal in the Wilderness.” He lives in Evanston, Illinois. Earlier this fall, I asked him what happens to the people he takes to the wilderness.
Rev. JOHN LIONBERGER (Author, “Renewal in the Wilderness”): What they encounter in the wilderness is getting away from all of the things in society that we call “trappings” that are meant to be good things, but that keep them away from a more authentic and deeper relationship with God.
ABERNETHY: Lionberger’s trips begin with his coaching.
LIONBERGER: I think what happens for them is they get to the transcendent through the physical—the act of canoeing, the act of setting up camp. I like to say it strips them of the barnacles that they accrue throughout their lives and society, and they begin to realize how little they need to be profoundly happy. They are able to simplify, and in that simplification they get a sense of something holy about what surrounds them, a sense of well being and a sense of being cared for and a sense of profound peace, and it’s kind of a hackneyed phrase—“Be in the moment”—but there is something so powerful about it, because that is the moment, in the very present is when God comes to us. It is much easier, I think, for God to get through our defenses when we’re in a wilderness.