Pot Holes and Old Bridges


Pot Holes and Old Bridges

This month I am featuring Camp Sumatanga. Sumatanga Camp & Conference Center has been in existence for 60 plus years.

I dare say all but a very few North Alabama United Methodists have visited Camp sometime in their lives, either as a youth attending summer camp or as an adult taking part in an Emmaus Walk or some retreat or meeting involving other United Methodists. For the past 60 or so years Camp has always been there for us as a go to place for spiritual renewal, relaxation, and good times.

Camp has been such a staple in the Christian life of North Alabama Methodists that we have become complacent and have taken Camp for granted for far too long. Kind of like the bridges we travel on and our highways - county, state and federal - that we take for granted and never give a thought of how old they are and the condition of the base or the supports.

Departments of Transportations give us warning all the time about conditions of our roads and bridges. We see the potholes in our roads and squeal until they are fixed, but we never see the poor conditions of our bridges. We just blindly travel over them with very little thought.

At Peace on the Lake at Camp Sumatanga
“The Heart of the North Alabama Conference”

Our beloved Camp Sumatanga in some ways resembles our bridges. Camp has been used over and over again without much thought as to the continued maintenance and conditioning a camp needs.

The breaking point is now upon us and it’s time for us to step up and address the problems at Camp financially and in other ways.

When I say us, I mean the 727 Churches of North Alabama and the many individuals of North Alabama that have enjoyed Camp over the years.

All churches and individuals of North Alabama need to make a donation before the end of the year and at the same time make a pledge for 2014. If each church would give just a small donation this fall, and then make a pledge for the future by placing Camp Sumatanga in their 2014 budget, things could change for Camp Sumatanga.

A group of people, primarily Board Members of Sumatanga are in the process of visiting as many clergy and laity as possible between now and the end of the year to raise some necessary funds to enable Camp Sumatanga to turn the corner into the future. Along with the Board members that are out taking the word of Camp, Rev. Mark Parris is speaking at as many functions as possible taking the same message and recreating relationship between Camp and the churches of North Alabama.

Rev. Parris was appointed last June by Bishop Wallace-Padgett to Camp Sumatanga for the very purpose of revitalization of fund raising and relationship building for Camp.

Just two weeks ago I worked on an Emmaus Walk number 417 at Camp Sumatanga where a group of women reached a closer walk with God and many others got a chance to worship with these ladies. Judy Vick was the Lay Director of this walk and Rev. Amy Parsons Vaughn was the Spiritual Director of this walk.

The food at Camp was great, the lake and mountain at Sumatanga were magnificent, and the valley between the mountains where camp is located truly is a creation of God. I believe Camp Sumatanga is the heart of the North Alabama Conference. It would be hard to imagine not having Camp Sumatanga for our use as North Alabama United Methodists and for others as well.

Please be open to helping Camp financially if not for you, for your children and grandchildren.

Will we squeal if Camp is no longer there for us because we became too complacent, or will we repair “the pot holes and the bridges” of Camp just as we repair our roads?

Please open your church treasuries to aid Camp Sumatanga at this time -- Camp needs your help!

If you have forgotten what Camp looks like, go to the new website - www.sumatanga.org  - for Camp Sumatanga, it’s up to date and tells a great story of the mission of Camp Sumatanga. 

May God ride with you as you travel over “Pot Holes and Bridges” you encounter in life!

Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader

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