There is an old saying – “This train is leaving the station.” In 2006, the former North Indiana Annual Conference session approved the concept of the Epworth Forest Project at the conference owned Epworth Forest Conference Center in North Webster, Ind. Since that time, many United Methodists across the state have been working toward the day when six cabins would be built to provide facilities for year-round programming to help reach the goal of 10,000 campers a year for Jesus Christ. If all goes as planned, dirt will begin to move at Epworth Forest in early September.

Several wonderful things have happened to make this construction possible. A new building committee, chaired by David Wilson of First Wayne Street United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne, has done a huge amount of work. With detailed information in hand, the building committee reconsidered the site, the foot print and the original bids of the proposed build. The committee changed the site for the first three buildings. They will now be located near the old amphitheater. Cabins will be built in clusters of three, and the cost for the project will drop from approximately $10 million to $7 million.

The 2006 annual conference session also established prerequisites that require strong stewardship steps. The first requirement is that cash must be in hand for the building before contracts will be let. In other words, no loans of any sort can be made for the project – only cash. The other requirement is that an equivalent of 20 percent of the total cost of the building will be placed in a maintenance endowment fund before the contracts are let. In other words, if the building cost is $500,000, then there must be $600,000 in hand before construction can begin.

The Epworth Forest Project team believes those numbers will be met in the next few weeks; contracts will be let; the Indiana Conference Council on Finance and Administration and the Conference Trustees will provide due diligence; and the project will begin. This train is leaving the station, come and get onboard.

If you’d like to join in making this build for the future of Indiana Conference camping ministries a reality, visit www.rightfuture.org to make a cash gift, a pledge or other opportunities, or to simply gain more information about the project.

This train is leaving the station. As individuals and churches share the joy of this project, they also share in “doing everything it takes to reach the next generation for Jesus Christ.”

The Rev. Jean Moorman Brindel, CFRE, AFP, serves as Development Director of The Epworth Forest Project at North Webster, Ind.