OK, how many of you remember that 60s television show? As the “senior” member of the MMFA staff, I remember it well. Paul, who is a little younger than me, probably does; but Laura, at her young age, probably not.
As I look back on last week, it was certainly memorable and very special. Here’s what happened:
The purpose of our trip was to conduct a pre-campaign assessment and feasibility interviews for Hope Conference and Renewal Center. Laura and I are sharing the work for this project and she was waiting outside her home at 5:30 am for our drive to the airport. With the way flights are these days, it takes a big chunk of time to get from one place to another so Sunday was mostly travel.
On Monday, I began at Moravian Hall Square meeting with Rev. Marv Henkelman. He shared Camp Hope stories and also provided some history of Hall Square, as well as a tour of the beautiful facility. On to Nazareth and Schoeneck Moravian to meet with Rev. Terry Folk. He shared stories of his family at camp and how Schoeneck has always had a strong connection, providing financial support as well as volunteers. Rev. Bill Matz was seated in one of his favorite spots outside the entrance of Moravian Village. We had a delightful visit and history lesson in addition to me getting introduced to nearly everyone who passed by our bench. As we talked about the importance of building community and how Camp Hope provides that for the Eastern District, I witnessed how Mr. Matz builds community at Moravian Village.
Tuesday’s visit with David and Doris Schattschneider was a great time to catch up on Bethlehem news, Doris’s work at Moravian Open Door, and David’s long history with Camp Hope. Doris had thoughtfully provided materials about the history of the camp and the important work of David’s father, Allen, in the founding of the camp in the 50's. The Prochnaus warmly welcomed me into their home and Norm talked about taking a call to First Church in York and immediately traveling to Camp Hope to serve as Dean. He shared his memories of serving in various roles at the camp and the importance of adding handicapped accessibility and winterization to enable year-round use of the facilities.
A visit to Camp Hope was a highlight of the week. I got to observe the Revs. Rhonda and Tracy Robinson working with a full complement of Junior High campers. I had a conversation with Martha Giesler, whose experience at camp began almost as soon as she did; coming to camp with her parents, being a camper, then a counselor, and now serving of the Board of Managers. I also had a chance talk with her mom, Tina Giesler. I was able to catch Sue Dreydoppel between her tasks of camp administration, and had a conversation with Camp Director Steve Sobczak at lunch. Rev. Cynthia Geyer and I sat by the lake while she provided the information about camp sessions, retreats and her hopes and dreams for the camp’s future. We talked about challenges as well as opportunities that increased funding could provide.
Thursday began at Advent Moravian in Bethlehem, meeting with Rev. Laura Gordon. She talked about the benefits of the Christian education that occurs in the camp environment and how children grow from living in community. It was our first encounter and I’m glad she was able to make time to talk with me. After lunch I chatted with Rev. Keith Harke at West Side. After our conversation about Camp Hope, we walked outside to see the new parking lot and the green space beside the church. It’s a wonderful improvement for the church and the community. Rev. Jodie Lean Harney and I meet for coffee in the afternoon. We go back a long way, sharing a mutual friendship with Deanna Hollenbach (former IBOC Executive Director). Jodie told me about the girls’ retreat she developed which has taken place for 3 years, participation growing every year. Improvements at the camp could allow for increased programming and development of additional new and exciting opportunities.
On Friday, Hopeton Clennon, Central Moravian pastor and long time friend, and I met in his office. I learned how Central supports the camp and how members serve and support the camp financially. Mike Reiss, IBOC Executive Director wanted to hear about the Camp Hope work and talk about ways MMFA could assist his agency in securing its future. The Northern Province PEC was meeting at the Church Center and I happened to pass the conference room door at their lunch break. I got a hug from PEC member Wilton Grannum, a former MMFA board member, as well as from Jill Westbrook. It was good to see Revs. Betsy Miller and Dave Bennett, both of whom Laura had interviewed earlier in the week. She was a road warrior for sure with interviews taking her to Allentown, Covenant Moravian in York, PA, Lititz, and Palmyra Moravian in New Jersey. At the airport on Saturday, I had a chance to talk with Judy Kauaa and Rev. Bruce Nelson, both of whom had traveled to Bethlehem for the PEC meeting.
It was quite a week for both of us, but I can’t remember a time when I enjoyed myself more and felt more strongly the connection of our Moravian Church. As I move toward retirement at the end of the year, I’m going to miss these kinds of weeks, but I know the friendship and the community will endure.