During my years as a pastor, District Superintendent, and Bishop, I have participated in many ground breaking ceremonies – for new church facilities, building additions, and other projects. Until yesterday, I had never participated in two in one day. That happened yesterday in a great double celebration.
As a part of the over-all "Building Discipleship Centers Campaign," we broke the ground for the new Discipleship Center AND the new Buck Lodge at Epworth Forest. Our campaign has now reached $8.8 million in cash and pledges, and so our CCFA (Conference Council on Finance and Administration) recently approved releasing funds for those projects. The new Discipleship Center will replace the nearly hundred year old auditorium, and the Buck Lodge will be third new lakefront lodge (along with the already-completed Duecker and Fenstermacher Lodges). The demolition of the old auditorium will occur soon, followed by construction of the new Center. The Buck Lodge construction will follow (likely in the spring) after final design documents are completed.
The two other projects of the Campaign are still moving forward. Plans for the new lake at Camp Indicoso have been delayed a few times, but our Camp Board is meeting later this week at that Camp to review the latest plans. Some funds have been given for that project, and more donations will be sought. Gifts to the Scholarship Fund are starting to increase, and that fund will help future campers attend events at all of our Indiana Conference sites.
I am grateful for the hundreds of individuals and dozens of churches who have given to our "Building Discipleship Center Campaign." Most of those pledges and gifts have been undesignated – given for any and all of these projects. Some persons have designated their gifts, and of course those gifts will be used ONLY for the specified project. Major donor gifts have helped move the Campaign forward, but every gift of every size is important. In fact, the very first to the Campaign once it was adopted at the 2015 Conference Session was a $20 gift given by one of our youth. That gift may well have been the "biggest" in terms of ability to give, and I honor everyone who has helped.
It is not too late to help. Additional gifts and pledges will help us move the rest of the campaign forward, and undoubtedly the Indiana Conference will have other campaigns in the future. As one of my mentors (a layperson) said to me years ago, “It is never too late to become a giver.” The Apostle Paul said it even better when he wrote his words of appreciation to the Philippians: “Not that I’m looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity."
And so I celebrate our “double celebration” yesterday and all of the blessings of generosity represented. Thanks be to God.