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Reflections with Camp & Retreat Ministries 

Happy Epiphany!

Today is Epiphany on the Christian calendar, the day we mark the arrival of the Magi from the East, who came to pay homage to Jesus. This was after they had been on a long journey, including passing through Jerusalem, where they caused quite a stir. After they visited with the holy family, the Gospel of Matthew tells us “they returned home by another road.” I vividly remember a sermon preached by a seminary classmate about how it is that when we encounter Christ, we are compelled to go back by another road. We simply cannot return to being who we were, doing all the things that we did before--our lives are different and that change is reflected in how we move through the world.

I know that many of us are glad to have put 2020 behind us, and yet as I consider this text from Matthew and our journey through 2020, I am curious: what did you encounter over this last year that has changed you enough that you will now walk by a different road? I’d love to hear your stories of transformation.

As I reflect on my own 2020 journey, I’m aware of how the light of gratitude reveals a new perspective on my life. I continue to be profoundly grateful for the site directors and staff who have been a strong community on this path, sharing burdens and caring for one another in deeply moving ways. Both our griefs and our joys have been communal. We offered our hopes that our regular ministry would be interrupted for only a short time, and then we’ve held together as we realized that we were in this for the long haul. 

I am grateful for the Board of Camp & Retreat Ministries, who wrestled with the challenges and helped navigate this difficult path. In the midst of our economic crisis the Board set a fundraising goal that seemed improbable if not impossible: $600,000 by the end of the year. And yet the members of the Board demonstrated the faith, conviction, and audacity to dream that we might just be able to meet that target, to keep alive our ability to continue our mission.

I am also grateful for colleagues in Camp and Retreat Ministries across the country who continue to meet with one another to provide support and help each other lead during these days. Within this network, I have the joy of seeing some of the best of what human beings have to offer one another in crisis.

I am extremely grateful for you and the entire Camp and Retreat community. Amazingly, the Board’s audacious $600,000 fundraising goal was not only met, it was exceeded! During the last couple of weeks of the year we received several large gifts, as well as a grant of $87,000 from the State of Oregon CARES fund that was set aside for camps in Oregon. We also received a grant for $18,000, which is specifically earmarked to help us prepare our sites for re-opening in 2021! As of this writing we are at about $650,000, with a few more gifts still to be entered into the system, so stay tuned for the final 2020 number in the next week or two. Thank you for shining the light of generosity so brightly!

And finally, I am grateful for my faith and the abiding presence of God in this time. I know that for me personally, that presence makes a huge difference in how I experience the world and what I am able to offer to my community and beyond. Like the Star that led the Magi, God’s presence sometimes leads me through rough terrain, but also to unexpected experiences of love. In this light I have been changed, and I walk a different road, thanks be to God!

See you on the adventure ahead,

Rev. Todd Bartlett 
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

*PHOTO: Light slices through the darkness of the forest at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).

A Poem for Epiphany


This poem was originally titled "A Christmas Wish." It was written by our then 25-year-old daughter on a Christmas river cruise (she and her sister were by far the youngest of the 100 participants!). All the guests on the boat were invited to write a wish on a small slip of paper, to be placed on the Christmas tree. Hannah's "wish" was chosen to be read to all the passengers, who were deeply moved. As we look for guidance to God's Star of Love in this new year, the poem seems especially appropriate, and Hannah generously gave permission to share it.  --Todd Bartlett

May the graceful light of guiding star
Spread warmth and light both near and far.
A healing wish for those in need,
Grant them help with timely speed.
Shine through minds made dark with hate,
And let the fear in them abate.
For those who suffer sick and cold,
Please help them find a hand to hold.
In times of turmoil, war, and strife,
Help us remember there’s more to life.
We’re capable of such great love;
Show us the way, O star above.

Hannah Bartlett – December 2016

*PHOTO: Light and snow on the Peace Path at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).

Blessings Report

  • Limited damage to the Pioneer Lodge roof at Suttle Lake after a tree fell on it
  • A restricted gift to Sawtooth for expenses related to COVID-19 protocols
  • Cooperative efforts among American Camp Association (ACA) and Christian Camps and Conferences Association (CCCA) in Oregon to gain access to CARES funds for financial supports for camp and retreat ministries

 Please send your blessings to share in future issues of the e-news. 

Gratitude lights our path . . .

If you've read Todd's lead article above, you know our amazing good news: God's presence is with us even in years like 2020! And gratitude for that steadfast and loving presence has resulted in a miracle of financial support for camp and retreat ministries. Our gratitude for your generosity is lighting up our way forward! If you would like to walk with us into 2021 on that journey of gratitude and ministry, we invite you to donate today.

Please donate today! →

Go Camping E-News is a publication of Camp and Retreat Ministries, a collaboration of the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

1505 SW 18th Ave
Portland, OR 97201