We hear of local churches assisting Camps with volunteer service. Often, without this help, funds would be lacking to complete necessary maintenance and improvements.
It is a little more unusual to hear of Camps helping the local church. That is exactly what happened between Charis Camp and Cross Connection Church in November of 2017.
Early on a Wednesday morning church leadership were awakened with news no one wants to hear. During the night a fire that had begun outside the back of the church spread to the building and began to burn between the walls. Firefighters had arrived on scene and were able to get it under control quickly, but the extent of the damage was not immediately known. The sanctuary suffered extensive smoke damage, and water damage was an additional concern. During the day as word spread through the scattered congregation, people did not know what this was going to mean for the future of their building. It was a confusing time, and the congregation had no place to come together to support one another through this crisis.
It was soon apparent that there was also no place to hold their upcoming Sunday service. It was then that the Camp Director, Darren Duncalfe, who himself attends Cross Connection, stepped up and offered the Camp as a meeting place. “Just come”, he said. “We’ll have everything ready for you”. And he offered the space for as long as they needed it. On Sunday morning the congregation gathered together at the Camp to worship and to hear what lay ahead. “The Camp gave us a safe place to reconnect as a church body”, says Doug Lemna, former board chair. “It was an act of compassion and care at an uncertain time in the life of our church.”
It turned out that the congregation was back in their building the next week. Charis Camp has continued to bless the church, and not only through the Camp programs and events they offer. Cross Connection is a congregation of approximately 100 people. Having a good youth group is one of their priorities. Charis loaned one of their employees, Pastor Marty Bennett, on a part-time basis to fill this need. While continuing to work for the Camp, Pastor Bennett has remained with the church working with Youth and Young Adults.
Cross Connection Church in Chilliwack, BC, and the nearby Charis Camp have had a long association. The congregation formed in 1941 and moved to their current location in 1948, and the Camp began operations in 1947. Only a 20-30-minute drive from the church property, it has felt like the Camp is in the Church’s backyard. As such, from its inception the Camp has benefitted from volunteer labour as people from the church have made their way to the beautiful campground to assist with maintenance and projects. Over the years, hundreds of children, youth and families from Cross Connection have come and been blessed and challenged by the camp programs and special events.