“United Methodist Camping Ministries have had a major impact upon my life.” This is a statement that many clergy and lay leaders across this Annual Conference say with enthusiasm. It is certainly a part of my story. In fact, it was at a place in Kentucky called Aldersgate United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center that I was first nudged in the direction of ministry and later heard a call to ordained ministry.
We are blessed in North Alabama with beautiful Camp Sumatanga. Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12 has been designated as Sumatanga Sunday. We will have an opportunity on this day in our local churches to give back to the camp that means so much to many of us.
Sumatanga began in 1951. Since that time more than 500,000 guests have participated in 4,800 retreats, camps, and conferences; 20,000 pilgrims have had a faith-changing experience through the Emmaus Walk; numerous church revitalizing ministry events and training events for lay and clergy leaders have also taken place at Sumatanga. All this, in addition to the countless, faith-shaping, holy moments individuals have experienced while on the grounds of Sumatanga, make Sumatanga so special to our Conference.
I encourage you and your local church to celebrate Sumatanga Sunday on May 12. There are resources local churches can use including bulletin inserts, talking points and promotional posters available on Sumatanga’s website at www.sumatanga.org/sumatangasunday. Please consider making a special gift that day.
Another way people are supporting Sumatanga is through the Seventh Annual Sumatanga Golf Tournament, which will be at Grayson Valley Country Club on May 20. The event was started by members of Trussville First UMC, but has grown each year and gained support from United Methodists throughout North Alabama. Proceeds from the tournament go to support specific repairs and improvements to the camp facilities, and to the Happy Camper Scholarship fund. You can participate in this tournament either as a golfer or through a Hole Sponsorship. For more information go to www.fumctrussville.com/SumatangaGolf.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett