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Outdoor Ministry Consult builds connections across the UCC

Having decided to go into ministry while attending their first Outdoor Ministry Consult 20 years ago, Randy and Linda Crowe looked forward to sharing N-Sid-Sen with their colleagues.  Out of connections over the years, those at the consult held them in prayer when they left to see his mother who was in failing health in Kirkland and enfolded them in their embrace when they returned to the gathering after her death.

Bruce Druckenmiller, a member of the national UCC Outdoor Ministry Association, said that the goal of the national Outdoor Ministry Consult is to connect people involved in outdoor ministry across the denomination.

Bruce Druckenmiller

Bruce Druckenmiller in N-Sid-Sen's new fireside room

“Outdoor ministries is in a fragile state in some conferences where the sites are dependent on conference finances,” he said.  “N-Sid-Sen is an exception.  It is self-supporting and $30,000 ahead, in contrast to Hartman Center at Milroy, Penna., which is that far behind.”

Bruce is director of youth, young adults and outdoor ministry on the Penn Central conference staff, working with Hartman Center since 2002, after serving as a pastor in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

“It’s crucial that outdoor ministries not fall by the wayside.  Camps are a way for people to connect with their roots and sacred stories.  They are a way people experience a call to lay and ordained ministries.  They are the way people, youth and children find and build relationships with God.  They do not replace the local church, but build on the foundation of Sunday schools and youth programs,” he said.  “The best advocates of camp are campers inviting friends, expanding beyond the United Church of Christ.”

The consult is a time to share ideas and realize participants don’t need to “reinvent the wheel,” but can take ideas and can apply them in their settings.

“We listen to each other and learn new motion songs and graces for meals,” he said.

“Our theme, ‘Sacred Stories, Sacred Spaces,’ reminds us that our sites are sacred places to us and to people who come through the years.  People may never have felt closer to God, being in relationship with other people and God,” he said.

Bruce added that many camps are taking seriously the sacredness of their space by becoming involved in green living practices as part of relating to creation, learning to lessen their burden on the earth and its resources.

“Camps are working on building green and living green, continuing conversations on how to make the camps green with new  technologies, insulation and lighting.  Beyond energy efficiency, camps consider what paper products and cleaning supplies to use.  Many have recycling programs.

The consult is held every other year, moving around the country visiting different sites.


Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © December 2009


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