Six years ago I wrote this post. Our then-new Bishop had just been ordained and I was feeling really excited and hopeful about the direction ECC was moving in. I asked for your help (in a long-winded way, as I am prone to do.) I told you what Sara Clarke and I believed in 2011: that NOW is the right time.
It was the right time. Sort of. But there was a windy road from that blog post to this one, that included Sara not working at ECC and then coming back to work at ECC, and me fumbling my way through many years as director and learning the ropes and growing some of the programs and learning a lot through mistakes and risks and new experiences.
In 2016 our diocesan CFO Dennis Burton came onto the scene and led us in a really powerful strategic planning process and then things really started to happen. We created a new mission statement, we brought Sara back in a full-time role, we hired Joanne Harrison and Craig Halvarson to help with marketing and care of the property. We made some plans for solar farms and new buildings and new marketing strategies.
In the middle of all of that Sara casually said to me one day, “We celebrate our 70th Anniversary next year. We should have a big gala.”
I’m a girl who loves a party, so I said sure.
We started by doing what any smart people would do: recruiting two other people to plan the party. We asked Chris Labonte and Laura Sidla to come on board, and they recruited more people to help, and RISE Together was born.
We had high hopes and big goals. We wanted 300 people to come to this event, and we hoped to raise a lot of money. I was cautiously optimistic, but a little nervous because at our regular fundraisers we have about 125 people attend. 300 felt like a lot.
But Lord – haven’t I met you people before? I should have known better.
Because here we are on April 11th, and we have sold out of tickets for our 70th Anniversary Gala. SOLD OUT. (ok, we have ten tickets left, but you know what I mean.)
We didn’t sell out 300 tickets though friends, we sold out 400 tickets.
We had to get a bigger tent.
Our bigger tent. (It will look prettier in person)
We are also well on our way to reaching our financial goal for this event. I’m no longer cautiously optimistic – I’m over the moon optimistic, and I’m profoundly overwhelmed by the generous way this community has shown up to support this ministry even though I shouldn’t be surprised or overwhelmed anymore because you do it again and again and again.
The idea behind our Rise Together event is that we are celebrating the past while we sustain the future. I sincerely hope that you are planning to be here to celebrate with us on June 1st. If you cannot be here, I hope you’ll still take part in the celebration and the sustaining. You’ll be seeing more from us as we reflect on 70 incredible years of service and ministry. You can make a one-time or sustaining monthly gift at any time to help us secure the future of ECC.
Your gifts of service, time, celebration, energy, money, in-kind gifts, wishlist gifts, campers, and talents are never taken for granted here. We know that the reason the ministry of ECC has been so powerful for 70 years is because of the people who make up the ministry, and who share love and fellowship with one another in ways that change lives.
Thank you for showing up, once again, to lift up and celebrate the Episcopal Conference Center. I can’t wait to see you on the dance floor!