Home > Our World > News > News Archives by Date > 2010 > September > Archive
Camp supports young clergy families

 
Translate

6:00 P.M. EST Sept. 29, 2010 | BOYNE FALLS, Mich. (UMNS)

The Rev. Eugene Blair, Flint District superintendent in the Detroit Conference, preaches during the Thursday morning worship service at the Family Camp for Young Clergy and Ministry Professionals in Boyne Falls, Mich. UMNS web-only photos by Michael Desotell.
The Rev. Eugene Blair, Flint District superintendent in the Detroit Conference, preaches during the Thursday morning worship service at the Family Camp for Young Clergy and Ministry Professionals in Boyne Falls, Mich. UMNS web-only photos by Michael Desotell.

What began as a summer camp in Michigan has become a peer-support system for young clergy and their families.

The Family Camp for Young Clergy and Ministry Professionals in Boyne Falls is a weeklong getaway that gets young clergy and their families away from demanding pastoral work and allows them to relax while also being able to build relationships with others who share their experiences.

"It's a week where you can be present to your kids and to your spouse and to your family in a way that doesn't seem like many other weeks do,” said the Rev. Jeff Nelson, pastor at Redford (Mich.) Aldersgate United Methodist Church. “All you have to do is show up and be ministered to in the context of community. I don't think we realize how desperate we are for some of that until it is happening to you and around you.”

Since its beginnings in 2008, the camp has more than doubled in size, and 2011 is expected to boast nearly 20 families — almost triple the attendance of the original camp.

The Rev. Amy Mayo-Moyle, associate pastor at Clarkston (Mich.) United Methodist Church, developed the idea for the annual camp.

The Rev. Aaron Kesson, pastor at Emmanuel and Lambertville United Methodist churches, shares during one of the morning teaching sessions. The Rev. Aaron Kesson, pastor at Emmanuel and Lambertville United Methodist churches, shares during one of the morning teaching sessions.

“It began as a way to get young clergy families together that were having similar kinds of experiences, had young families and were trying to balance family and private life with the fishbowl that can be the parish,” said Vaughn Maatman, executive director at Lake Louise, where the camp is held. “So we started a steering committee talking about what sort of experience we could create each time that would be supportive of young clergy families in their ministry.”

Continuing education and spiritual renewal

Running from Sunday evening to Friday afternoon, the camp schedule is relaxed so that clergy and their families can experience times of rest, play and learning each day.

Families begin the day worshipping together in a service that features clergy leading in the various parts of the service, and a guest preacher from the area.

After worship, the adults have a daily morning session, focusing on balancing ministry and marriage. Younger children participate in a Vacation Bible School-type program, while nursery care is available for children ages 3 and younger. Following lunch, everyone is free to enjoy the camp’s grounds and relax together.

Family activities are scheduled each evening, including a beach party, karaoke night and a time for s’mores. The week also features a free day for families to leave the camp for a day of exploring northern Michigan.

After the evening activity, babysitting and movies are provided so that couples can have time together without their children.

Creating community, shaping ministry

One of the results of the camp has been the creation of a community of younger clergy that exists outside of the five-day experience. Attendees now gather for social events and work together.

“The first year totally rejuvenated me for ministry and the last two years have been the best two years of ministry for me,” said Mayo-Moyle. “Having the friendships coming out of this — people who you can socialize with — has been really nice, but at the same time, the ability to bounce ideas off of each other and learn from each other has been really great.”

Heather Shipley (from left), Allison Mayo-Moyle and Eleanor Shipley enjoy ice cream during the families’ trip to a local ice cream shop. The camp offers clergy families time to relax and explore northern Michigan.
Heather Shipley (from left), Allison Mayo-Moyle and Eleanor Shipley enjoy ice cream during the families’ trip to a local ice cream shop. The camp offers clergy families time to relax and explore northern Michigan.

New ministries also have formed. The Timothy Project, a vehicle for youth to explore their calling to ordained ministry, was developed and is led by clergy who attended the camp.

A desire to grow

Entering its fourth year, the camp is experiencing growing pains, with more families attending and the children getting older. The camp currently offers children’s programming for three age groups, and plans to add programming to meet the needs of the aging children.

“Clearly we’re going to have to grow with the kids’ program,” Maatman said. “This year we added a third group and we’re going to have to continue to do that. We also tried out a new model of bringing in a mission group that would help us staff the kids’ program but would connect with what’s going on with the family camp by providing a volunteer opportunity for a local congregation.”

As more and more families attend the camp, others are seeing the need for this type of experience.

“Ministry can be lonely, it can be really isolating,” Mayo-Moyle said. “It’s important to feel like you are part of a community, for your kids to feel like they are normal kids, for your spouse to feel like he/she is normal. This is celebrating what’s right in ministry.”

* Thomas is director of communications for the Detroit Annual (regional) Conference, Flint, Mich.

News media contact: Joey Butler, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Comments will be moderated. Please see our Comment Policy for more information.
Comment Policy
Add a Comment

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW