By REBECCA WALLACE
Russell Davis, Executive Director of North Georgia Camp and Retreat Ministries, says he believes that when a local church considers sending a child to camp, they should remember that "the world is our parish."
Rev. Chuck Stutsman, pastor of Mountain City UMC in Mountain City, Ga. agrees. The kids his congregation helped to send to Glisson this summer actually attend another church. In fact, the campers attend Black Rock Baptist, a small church in Clayton.
When the Baptist church started an after school children’s program, Mountain City UMC donated funds to feed the 35-40 kids that attend every Wednesday.
Rev. James Turpen at nearby Tiger UMC heard about the gift and asked his church to raise money in order to give some of the kids the gift of summer camp at Glisson.
“When we learned that our friends and neighbors at Tiger had raised the money to send four girls to Camp Glisson, we had to help,” said Stutsman. And help they did, with backpacks and $100 cash for each camper to spend on supplies, souvenirs, and snacks while at camp.
“We don’t care what their denomination is,” he added. “These kids have probably never been out of Rabun County, and now they have been to this beautiful camp where God is everywhere.”
Though Mountain City UMC is a small congregation as well, Stutsman proudly brags that is the most loving and giving church he's ever been a part of, and they are happy to partner with Tiger and other nearby UMCs for similar missions.
“These congregations weren't focused only on institutional sustainability, but even more on missional impact,” explained Davis. “If we're called to make Disciples of Jesus Christ, then why not start by leveraging the faith forming capacity of camping ministries to reach out to children and youth in our communities?”
Rebecca Wallace is a communications consultant (and United Methodist) in Atlanta.