hold up the walls

barn wall

This is my favorite photo from the summer.  I love it because it captures this really special moment when my counselors are spontaneously hugging one another and sharing the love.  That light is just pouring through the window, and as hokey as it may sound, I can’t help but see it as God’s grace just beaming down into the barn.  And I love it because my hands are on the barn wall.  When I think about my job as director, this is how I see it: young people experiencing one another in Christian community with God streaming in around them while I make sure the walls stay up.

In my mind, you all are in this picture with me.  You might not see yourself right away, but trust me – you’re there.  If you are currently a camper or counselor, you’re one of the people hugging in the picture.  You are the reason for the ministry right now, and I hope and pray your experience at ECC feels like this big hug.

If you are a former camper or counselor, a parent, a member of the diocese, or a friend of ECC, you are with me in this picture.  Your hands are resting on the side of the barn, and you, like me, are helping to make sure the walls stay up.

As people who care about this special place,  the best thing we can do is create a space where young people can come and experience God, love, and friendship in a way that forever changes them.  Metaphorically speaking, we hold up the walls of the barn, praying for and blessing what happens inside of it.

Here’s the thing: we have been blessed at ECC with an abundance of love and help and prayers and support and encouragement.  Now, we need something else.  We need money.  If you will, we need more people to help us hold up the walls of the barn, making sure that the ministry of this sacred place can continue for generations to come.

In November, after the Bishop’s ordination, I wrote a post where I told you that Now Is The Right Time.  I told you how incredible it was (is!) to have the total support of our new Bishop as he begins his time in this diocese.  I told you that the time would come – soon – when you could easily donate money through our new database.  Well friends, this is that day.

I write this blog today, humble and hopeful that you will consider a sustaining gift to the Episcopal Conference Center.  You can give through our website here.  With our new donation system, you can arrange to have a monthly gift automatically withdrawn from your account or credit card, or you can arrange to make a yearly gift in one payment.  If the website isn’t your style, you can send a check in any amount, at any time, to ECC.

We’ve suggested two amounts for gifts, though we would be grateful for any gift in any amount.  Please read about those options, and consider those levels of giving.

One of the things about being a clergy person that has been the most spiritually enlightening for me has been giving.  The rector of my parish in North Carolina taught me to list my bills every month, and to put my pledge to God – be it to the church or other charitable donations – right at the top of my list of bills, so that when I was paid each month, the first thing I did was give back to God.  I found that in that framework, allocating a portion of my income each month to the church or to the work of organizations seeking to serve the most vulnerable in our midst was a wonderful exercise.  Giving helps me to remember how absolutely blessed I am and have always been.  Giving helps me to remember that there are so many people in the world who need my money more than me.  Giving keeps me centered, and connected, and grateful.

I won’t lie to you – Jonathan and I are not rolling in cash right now.  We took a big sabbatical and when we came back to work I was part-time and he was starting his own business.  I wouldn’t change a thing because the last two years of our lives have been the most profound and spirit-led that we have ever had – and the journey led us here.  Which is why I couldn’t be more joyful or excited about the monthly gift that we are giving to ECC. I want you to know how much I believe in the importance of our ministry here – enough that I am impatient to do my part, to give back to the camp that gave so much to me, and to give back to God.  I invite you to do the same.

And by the way – this is not going to be a one-time request.  As long as I’m the director of this camp I’m going to do everything in my power to keep our prices as low as possible.  That means we’re always going to have a gap in our budget.  Always.  But frankly, I’m not worried.  I just know how much you all love this place.  I know how much you want to see this ministry thrive.  I know that there is enough affection for this camp that generating a culture of stewardship and giving is absolutely possible.  I trust you and I believe in you.  And I know what we’re capable of, together and with God’s help.

Let’s hold up these walls, friends.  There’s something special happening inside.

2 thoughts on “hold up the walls

  1. Hi Meaghan,

    My journey for the past several months has not included the much loved Zumba or B2F either. Dave, our daughter Lori, and I took a 4 week trip out west to explore several National Parks. When Dave and I returned the first week in August we had to focus on selling a rental home in Newport. Meanwhile we were also preparing ourselves for a life’s greatest role…Grandparenthood! The property was ready for the market on October 2 and we had a sales agreement on October 16th (closing was November 16th). On October 24th God’s greatest gift entered our life…a grandson, Addison Rylee Nicodemus, arrived and our life is so filled with joy and love… we are besides ourselves! And I was one of Amy’s birthing coaches so it took me weeks to come off that cloud 9. Life is good. We are so in love with our precious little one.

    Along this journey though, I have stopped to smell the flowers…all your “strangers but once” blogs and your sermons at various churches. I have been spreading the word about the magic that you spread….love of God, understanding youth, your gift of music and FUN at any possible turn in the road. I LOVE reading everything that you write and the best thing is that I can see you and your spirit and energy in every word. Your ministry is making a huge difference and RI is so blessed to have you here. “God will provide what you need” and your journey back to RI proves that!!!

    I belong to St. Barnabas Church and my husband belongs to St. Mary’s in Portsmouth. Together we worship and participate in ministries at both…a real ecumenical union here! I have requested that St. Mary’s allocate $500 for ECC to purchase supplies for clean up and Dave and I will help recruit volunteers for at least one of your clean up days over at ECC. I am hoping that there will be some interest. I worked at trying to get two specific mid-high schoolers to go to ECC in the summer of 2012 but no success. I know that there are a handful of oldies like Dave and myself that will be there to help on clean up days and I will work hard to get more involved.

    So when you have some potential dates for clean up days, please let me know. If you would like the money from St. Mary’s sooner than later, please let me know and I will request that the check be written (money out depends on pledge income in).

    I have missed seeing you at Zumba and hope to return in the next few weeks. Amy went back to school the Wednesday before MLK day. Dave and I are babysitting two days a week…what a joy for us. Thank you for all you do to share the Good News of Jesus.

    It is not Christmas in the Goodrich Family unless we listen to your CD a few hundred times. Instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, there are fond memories of the Kelly girlsJ

    Enjoy the weekend. Hope to hear from you. And THANK YOU for including all those who read your blog as part of the wall at ECC…what a fabulous image!

    Donna xx

  2. Thanks so much for the support Donna! I’ve missed seeing you as well, but hope we’ll dance together again soon. In the meantime, your encouragement of me and the ministry at ECC has meant the world to me. I’ll be in touch soon! And congrats on your grandson!!! Much love and gratitude – Meaghan

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