Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries
My soul longs for you, O God
The Board of Camp and Retreat Ministries met this past Sunday, September 13. I used Psalm 42 to lead us in a devotion; it begins:
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
So, my soul longs for you.
While this may not be a classic Psalm of lament, the psalmist does go on to express grief and loneliness with these words:
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
And why are you disquieted within me? (42:5 and 42:11)
And in 42:9
I say to God, my rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I walk about mournfully because the enemy oppresses me?”
These words were powerful for me as a way to name my grief. A grief almost too great for words. A grief that has had a hold on my life for the past six months as we have been unable to serve children, youth, and adults at our sites. Add to this the powerful images from the areas that have been burned in Oregon and in neighboring states, and I felt overwhelmed and incapable of sharing the depth of this sadness. As smoke that has hung over much of the West Coast limits our visibility, so can our grief limit what we “see” in this world and what we see or don’t see of God’s presence.
Where are we to turn? What do we say to ourselves? Like the psalmist we can speak whatever it is that we are feeling. Our God is large enough to handle whatever we have to say. It is in acknowledging our grief that we can find God. For God is there in the midst of it and we are reminded, like the psalmist, that there is more than this momentary snapshot. Yes, it will have a lasting impact on our lives and yet, just as we know we will see the forest spring forth with new life, with God’s help so will we.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
*PHOTO: Deep Creek at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett)
Faithfulness In a COVID Summer
The national United Methodist Camp & Retreat Ministries organization published a story this week about what camp looked like this past summer. Two of the examples of creative "alternative" ministry refer to our own Oregon-Idaho sites and staff!
Committed, adaptable, creative, faithful, hardworking, generous, compassionate. The staff and volunteers of United Methodist Camp/Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) demonstrate so many of the qualities that define effective leaders. This season, those attributes were tested in familiar ways and new ones that stretched even the most resilient among us.
Of the nearly 170 United Methodist Camp/Retreat Ministries in the United States that offer summer camps, the majority (about 90%) did not offer traditional summer camp for the 2020 season. Directors, Executives, and boards of directors led painstaking decision-making processes which took into account guidance from the American Camp Association, CDC, and Association of Camp Nurses, local pandemic regulations and conditions, church and organizational values, priorities and finances, and site and staffing concerns, all filtered through prayer.
Read the entire story (with mention of Oregon-Idaho ministries) here.
Part of our response to lament is to affirm our faith in God's goodness.
Yes, we have blessings--many of them!
- Lowering of evacuation level at Collins
- Our staff are safe
- Providing hospitality for evacuees at Magruder
- The joy of gifting a Bible to a guest at Suttle Lake whose Bible has been in storage for over a year
- All sites are safe at this time
- The sound of laughter on the leadership team call
Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news.
Here I raise my Ebenezer....
The old hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing" (United Methodist Hymnal #400) references an Ebenezer: a monument to God's faithfulness. In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel names a stone Ebenezer, saying "Thus far the Lord has helped us." We believe that our ministry is a witness to God's saving actions in our lives and we believe that God is helping us, every step of the way. When you donate to camp & retreat ministries, you are raising your own Ebenezer, testifying to the power of God's love to transform lives.
*PHOTO: South Fork of the Boise River at Sawtooth (Todd Bartlett)