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.

The Christian Church in Indiana has been proud to support our local congregations who have resettled refugees from around the world in years past. As this vital ministry is being threatened by government action, we, the Regional Board, feel the need to speak out, to offer our voices against new policies that go against our country’s tradition of providing protection to people seeking safety.

Disciples throughout the United States have served over 40,000 refugees since World War II. Although we pray for the day when all violence comes to an end, we hope to continue doing this important part of our ministry, of living out God’s call to welcome the stranger who is need, a call deeply rooted in our scripture and our history.

By halting refugee resettlement for 120 days, refugee processing has ground to a halt. Each step of the refugee security check process is time sensitive, so a pause in processing has meant that refugees are pulled off of planes, families who are anticipating their loved ones are devastated, and communities that have planned for refugees to arrive are left in limbo. Such an interruption in processing will force refugees who were set to arrive in the United States today to wait months–and even years–to go through fingerprinting, interviews, health screenings, and multiple security screenings yet again, all while their lives are in danger.

By reducing refugee admissions from 110,000 to 50,000, President Trump, with the support of some members of Congress, is going back on America’s promise to refugees and abdicating America’s leadership role on human rights and refugee protection. By stopping the resettlement of Syrian refugees and narrowly preferencing religious minorities, this announcement is tantamount to the religious test that President Trump threatened during his campaign. This is a clear case of discrimination against the Muslim community and must be decried as such.

Many of our congregations have experienced the joy of growing through helping refugees. The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that by showing hospitality, “some have entertained angels without knowing it.” We hope that our leaders will reconsider their decisions, so that we may continue to welcome new angels, new neighbors, and new citizens of the United States.

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