NORTH WEBSTER, Ind. – Right here – Right now – Right future, the Campaign for the Camping Ministry at Epworth Forest Conference Center in North Webster took a giant step toward reality this past July with the Indiana Conference Trustees and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) approving an Indiana Conference Camping Board request to begin construction of the first new lodge at Epworth Forest. The lodge will be located on the site of the old amphitheater with construction beginning immediately. In a conservation move, the concrete from the amphitheater will be crushed and used in the foundation of the new lodge.

As wise stewards, CFA approval came because cash and pledges on hand will cover the cost of the lodge, and a 20 percent maintenance endowment fund and related campaign costs also have been met. These factors are part of the Indiana Conference approval policy for any new construction. If additional funds are raised by the Epworth Forest campaign in the next few days, the contractor can build a second lodge on the same site at a significant savings. CFA expressed its hope that many potential donors who are waiting to see this renovation of Epworth Forest begin will now give additional gifts and allow that cost-savings to occur.

Upon this approval, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner said, “I am so excited to see the first of our Epworth Forest projects becoming a reality! The next few weeks and months will be exciting ones as we see construction underway. I hope that additional gifts will be received to allow us to go forward with the second lodge too, since we can have a potential cost savings of $235,000 by constructing both at once.”

If the construction of the first two buildings is done together, the contractor will be able to reduce the cost of the build by about 20 percent of the cost of construction. To take advantage of this savings, an additional $700,000 in cash must be raised in the next 60 days to meet this challenge.

Individuals as well as church families are being asked to prayerfully consider making a cash gift to the project so that the $700,000 will be raised to realize the 20 percent savings.

This new lodge represents the first of three lodges anticipated on the site of the old amphitheatre. The construction will provide updated housing for youth and adult participants at Epworth Forest in a year-round, accessible setting. This past summer, senior high camps at Epworth Forest were more than six percent above their capacity. The new facilities and increased capacity of the center are greatly needed.

Two lay people of the Fort Wayne area, Dave Wilson and Steve Cadwallader, chair the Epworth Forest Building Committee. The designs for the new lodges were developed by MSKTD of Fort Wayne, and the plans are for a so called “green” design and the new lodge (hopefully lodges) will be completed and operational for the 2011 camping season.

For more information about the Epworth Forest Project, visit

“The next few weeks and months will be exciting ones as we see construction underway.”

– Bishop Mike Coyner