by Emily Martin, Disciples News Service, April 30, 2019

For 66 years, Barbee Christian Camp was a touchstone for campers across the Indiana region. A new partnership with an interdenominational camping center, the Geneva Conference Center in northern Indiana, led to a decision to close and sell the camp, even as camping operations in southern Indiana continued at the Bedford Christian Camp.

So, what to do with the funds from the sale? Barbee had been the launching pad for so many commitments to service and faith and the Regional Board was determined to continue that legacy.

“We know that summer camp has been the place where community has been formed, spirituality deepened, the scriptures discovered, and God’s presence felt,” said Regional Minister Rick Spleth. “We want to stimulate the opportunity for that to continue to happen in our churches.”

The creative plan that is now in place includes a $1 million endowment fund that will assist the Bedford Camp and Geneva Conference Center with capital needs. The fund, administered by the Christian Church Foundation, is expected to earn about $50,000 annually to be split between the two facilities.

The remainder of the Barbee Blessing, as it is now known, about $500,000, will be invested to support the Faith Formation Designated Fund. This fund will initially provide $1,000 grants to every congregation in the region, to bolster their faith formation efforts in their local setting. As congregations develop plans for larger projects they can apply for supporting grants. This is accompanied by a new regional effort to compile faith resources on the region’s website.

Faith Formation Commission Chair Rebecca Sundquist, said, “It is our hope that the legacy of Camp Barbee honored in this way will have a ripple effect of faith formation for generations to come.”

The first checks will be distributed at area gatherings in May. Later in 2019, congregations will be invited to report to the rest of the region on the new place their grant allowed them to go.

For more information on these efforts, contact Rebecca Sundquist, chair of the Commission on Faith Formation in the region.

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