Outdoor Ministry Decisions: Presbyter’s Pen April 2014

Bob reynolds rcr headshotBy Rev. Bob Reynolds, Executive Presbyter

Following a difficult decision by the Chicago Presbytery Assembly on February 8, the Presbyterian Camps property in Saugatuck, MI was sold to Dune Ridge, LLC on Friday, February 14. Nine million dollars was received from the purchaser, and Dune Ridge will pay the presbytery an additional $1 million within eighteen months to fulfill the final contract terms.

The Presbytery’s long-standing debt to US Bank, its related loan from the Synod of Lincoln Trails, the real estate commission, and closing fees were paid in full. The net proceeds are $288,541.79. After additional miscellaneous expenses associated with the sale and removal of valuable property are paid (up to $40,000), all remaining proceeds will be deposited in a separate bank account where they will be segregated from other investments and the presbytery’s approved operating budget. The Presbytery Assembly will decide their purpose at a later date. Meanwhile, the presbytery will continue its reliance on annual per capita and shared mission giving contributions from sessions/congregations to carry out its services to churches and its responsibilities for mission and governance.

With the closing of the Presbyterian Camps ministry, alternative youth and family summer camping opportunities are being planned for 2014. Presbytery Coordinating Commission (PCC) Moderator, Rev. Mike Youngblood, appointed a 2014 Summer Outdoor Ministry Task Force with the Rev. Adam Malak, Tinley Park Faith United, Ruling Elder Jackie Murray, Chicago Cornerstone, Ms. Carol MacNaughton, and Ms. Brooke Alexander taking the lead. As in prior years, the presbytery’s operating budget provides funds to subsidize a camping ministry, and camping scholarship funds will be available. Though limited in scope in 2014, this will be an experimental new beginning for the presbytery’s camping ministry. Your churches will be receiving a detailed brochure about these Presbytery sponsored camping opportunities at the Geneva Center in Rochester, IN and the Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Oregon, IL. Registration information is available online.

Meanwhile, the PCC has begun partial implementation of long-term recommendations received in September, 2013 from the Future Outdoor Ministry Task Force. The Rev. Nancy Dederer, Homewood First, was moderator. These recommendations will be considered together with other emerging presbytery priorities to be received by mid-year from the Connectional Mission Design Task Force.

On March 25, however, PCC authorized a new Together Outdoors Work Group that will guide outdoor ministry development for 2015 and the years to follow. PCC will elect seven members to this work group in the coming months.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul appealed for unity in the body of Christ. He wrote of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12) By God’s Grace, the Presbyterian Camps ministry has done just that for over 100 years. Its legacy is embedded forever in the foundation of Chicago Presbytery’s mission. Let us prayerfully embrace Paul’s ancient appeal for unity: “speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the body … promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Eph. 4:15-16)

Read John Vest’s April 2014 Moderator’s Message

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