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.
Speaking with Rev. Betty Angelini, director of Crestfield in Pennsylvania, I was inspired by a new way of doing day camp - of partnering with congregations.
"Our Mission is Equipping and that is what we try to keep the focus on in our outreach. The goal is to help congregations through partnering with our expertise, teaching them, mentoring them and then supporting them as they take it on themselves," states Angelini.
The idea is simple, many of us already do parts of it, and creative. Crestfield currently partners with six congregations. The partnerships are set up and funded through a Transformation Grant through Pittsburgh Presbytery.
During the first few years (differs depending on the congregation) Crestfield trains and staffs a day camp at the church. The congregation, however, to get the partnership day camp, has to commit to an increasing level of engagement in the program, leading to their taking it on themselves. For example, the first year, the congregation may be asked to lead one Bible Story time during the day camp, the next year they might be asked to lead two Bible Story times and lead an activity, and so on. As the congregation meets the goals, they are building ownership of the program and eventually take on the program entirely.
"This summer during staff training, we also trained staff for a congregation who will be taking over the leadership and implementation of the day camp we had partnered with them to develop over several years," Angelini shares.
What a great example of partnerships for the good of God's Church and our congregations. The congregation is left stronger through the experience, and the relationship developed through this partnership creates a lasting connection between Crestfield and the congregations.
Angelini further shares, "again, our goal is not to bring more campers to Crestfield, which of course would be great and encouraged, but our goal is to equip the congregation with skills and resources so they can be a stronger congregation."
How does your center reach out to your congregations?
How do your each out to your Presbytery?
How are you a resource, a partner, and not just a financial obligation of your Presbytery?
What ideas can you create that would give without the goal of receiving?
I am convinced that through resourcing without an alterior motive, we will move into the future stronger and more sustainable as we build lasting relationships with congregations. Remembering that our goal is resourcing, equipping and offering ministry (experiential Christian Education/spiritual formation) to God's people. Our goal is not physical survival. That needs to be of secondary importance to providing the best ministry we can. Through providing quality ministry, I believe, our ministry survival (in whatever form that works best) will be stronger and more sustainable than if that is our first objective.
Crestfield also offers traditional day camp at their facility.