11 Nov The Continuing Ministry of Rhodes Grove Camp
Steve Dennie, Director of Communications
All of the year-round United Brethren camps became independent entities after 2005, when we went through a denominational reorganization and discontinued the regional conferences. Rhodes Grove Camp in Chambersburg, Pa., has probably done the best job of maintaining close relationships with United Brethren churches. Partly, that’s because so many UB churches are located nearby—about 15 UB churches within 15-20 miles. None of the other camps share that advantage.
“We are centrally located among them,” says Angela Monn, director of Rhodes Grove Camp. “A lot of history for them is located on these grounds.”
Angela began working for Rhodes Grove in 2006 as Conference Ministry Director. That involved managing all of the guest services and helping guest groups plan their experience at the camp. In 2009, she was named executive director.
Angela is very intentional in keeping United Brethren churches in the loop about what is happening at Rhodes Grove and, of course, inviting them to be part of the camp’s ministry. She estimates that 70-80% of the summer youth campers come from United Brethren churches. Ministry from the summer of 2014 yielded 112 first-time decisions for Christ, 215 rededications, and 50 baptisms.
In 2017, Rhodes Grove will celebrate its 100th anniversary. As a lead-up to that milestone, the camp launched a major capital campaign.
The campaign uses the theme of “advancing tabernacle faith.” The focal point of the camp for 90 years was the big white tabernacle. This historic building became structurally unsound and had to be torn down in 2005. But its memory lingers.
“The tabernacle was a very important structure to many folks,” Angela says. “So many spiritual decisions happened within that building–commitments to Christ, commitments to advancing the kingdom, commitments to pastoral ministry and missionary service. Spiritual commitments too numerous to count.
“It was necessary for that building to come down, because it was unsafe and not cost-effective to repair. But it caused a lot of pain for a lot of people to see the tabernacle go away.
“We want to share that the tabernacle wasn’t a destination. Tabernacle faith is a journey. When the Israelites moved around in the Wilderness, the tabernacle went with them.
“Here at Rhodes Grove, the presence of the Lord is still here. We recognize the many great things that happened under that tabernacle roof, but the ministry of Rhodes Grove Camp continues. Lives are still being changed. The Kingdom is still being advanced. All of the same things are happening, just not in that building.”
The capital campaign will position the camp for future ministry. There are several parts.
The first part is debt elimination. The camp carries a debt of $684,000 on the Miller Lodge, which was built in 2001. Erasing that debt will free up $44,000 a year for other ministries.
They also want to become a spiritual life center, which can take in a number of ideas and ministries. One of them involves providing pastoral mentoring and a getaway for ministers and spouses.
Finally, they plan to expand the popular equestrian program. They currently provide four weeks of equestrian camp (four one-week camps) during the summer. This year’s camps were maxed out by April 1. They want to improve the facilities to serve more youth and provide year-round equestrian opportunities. They’ll initially expand the ministry for able-bodied riders. But on down the road, Angela envisions adding therapeutic options for persons with mental or physical disabilities.
The 2014 camp season began Memorial Day weekend with family camp. Rhodes Grove has 38 RV sites, plus hotel rooms and cabins. Training for the summer staff began after family camp, and the first camp began June 15. They held 12 camps during a five-week period.
They also do day camps and high adventure camps during which they take kids to the Pittsburgh area for white-water rafting. In 2013 they launched a paintball camp, which had a tremendous response.
Angela came to the Chambersburg, Pa., area to attend Wilson College. She and her husband, Bill, met there. They now have two teenage sons.
Angela’s background is in accounting and business management. She describes herself as a “spiritual mutt.” She attended a Christian school through fourth grade. “I learned to love the Lord very early as a youngster based on the influence of the teachers and mentors at that school.”
Over the years she has attended Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, and other churches—“a myriad of foundational teachings,” she says. Her family currently attends the nearby Antrim Brethren in Christ church.
“For me, it’s more about my relationship with Christ,” she says. “I love the Lord.”