United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries Executive Gathering 2015: A Report
Annual Conference executives for United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries (CRM) gathered from across the United States at Asbury Hills Camp and Retreat Center, Greenville, South Carolina, for their annual meeting December 8-11. Participants representing twenty-four Annual Conferences were greeted with a warm and generous hospitality by the South Carolina Conference, including Bishop Jonathan Holston, Arthur Spriggs (South Carolina CRM Executive), Kathy James (Director of SC Connectional Ministries), and David Rouse (Director of Asbury Hills).
Learning, mutual support, and planning mixed in with fellowship and the opportunity to deepen relationships made this a rich and enriching gathering. Our learning session focused on Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why. Russell Davis, North Georgia CRM Executive Director, led the discussion of this material, noting how critically important it is to spend time identifying the “Why” of our camp and retreat ministries, as this core purpose ought to guide everything we do.
Mike Huber, Exec for the Upper New York Conference, and Kevin Witt, CRM Director, UMC Discipleship Ministries, reported on their meeting with the National Association of UMC Annual Conference Treasurers (NAACT). Their presentation included an expression of gratitude to the members of NAACT, recognizing the huge contributions they and their staff make to CRM through financial services support. In addition to saying thanks, Mike and Kevin led a conversation about some of the “whys” of CRM, bright spots and challenges, and how we might collaborate to strengthen ministry. The UMCRM Association plans to continue to nurture relationships with the NAACT in the coming year.
Russell Davis reported on Outdoor Ministries Connection, a collaborative meeting of eight different denominational camp and retreat ministry associations. This group held a joint event with association board members in September, identifying areas of common ground and potential resource-sharing to meet training and educational needs and address common challenges.
Gary Lawson, CRM Exec from the Memphis Conference, shared the UMCRM Association’s efforts to address the discontinuation of the CRM Certification program. A new program is in development to ensure quality of the educational process for the professional development needs of CRM leaders, as well as timeliness and affordability of classes and workshops.
Arthur Spriggs brought an update on the efforts to strengthen the UMCRM Development Fund. The priority areas are Endowment, Scholarship, and Sustaining Resource.
Lively discussion characterized a session led by Kevin Witt on “Measurable Missional Outcomes.”The importance of this topic quickly became obvious to all, as did the need to invest considerable time and energy into discovering supportive and defendable efforts.
Lest it appear that all we did was sit around and talk (and listen), we should mention that many participated in the site tour of Asbury Hills, a moonlit adventure on the Giant Swing, and a candlelit tour of the Biltmore Mansion near Asheville, NC.
I report about this Gathering in the hope that readers will appreciate a group of servants who are dedicated to enriching the camp and retreat ministries of their particular areas and across the General Conference. —Randy Pasqua, Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries
Randy Pasqua is a clergy member of Holston Conference and has served in Holston as a pastor, as the Director of Buffalo Mountain Camp and Camp Lookout, and as Executive Director of Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries.