“What can we do better together?” This the question that is being answered by the annual meeting of the Outdoor Ministry Connection (OMC). Representatives from American Baptist Camps, Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers (ECCC), Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM), Outdoor Ministry Association – Church of the Brethren (OMA-CoB), Outdoor Ministry Association – United Church of Christ (OMA-UCC), Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA), and the United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries (UMCRM) Association gathered together for three days of meetings at Pilgrim Center in Ripon, Wisconsin.
Over the last four years this ‘association of associations’ has been meeting to learn about the ministry of each organization and to discern if there are ways we can share together to strengthen the work being done at the individual sites across the continent. Several important initiatives have begun that will benefit our associations as well as the sites that we serve.
The largest project is a once-in-a-lifetime shared conference planned for November of 2019. Imagine a conference with over six hundred participants, top keynotes, amazing workshops, inspiring worship, and opportunities to connect with the best outdoor ministry practitioners from the mainline denominations across the continent. Planning is already underway!
Many other projects are also in progress, spearheaded by task forces within the OMC. The OMC has recognized that research is an area where it would be meaningful to have the participation of all mainline denominations. Research will help us all to tell the story of outdoor ministry and its impact. In a similar vein, an evaluation project is in the pilot phase, developing a common way for camps to measure their effectiveness. A third initiative, Interim Director Training, is being developed to increase and expand the network of qualified interim directors who could serve across denominational lines, Directing sites in pivotal moments of transition. Collegial consulting is another area of shared interest across the denominations, and conversations continue about how to form and resource a network of consultants to meet the needs of our centers and ministries.
All of our sites have unique gifts to share, our associations have incredible resources to offer, and together we are able to strengthen the body of Christ. We are better together!
Rev. Theresa McDonald-Lee is Co-Executive Director with her spouse Johnathon of Presbyterian-affiliated Camp Kintail in Ontario, Canada. She serves as President of the Presbyterian Church Camp & Conference Association (PCCCA).