This will be my second report of decisions and discussions from meetings of the Conference Board. I decided this was important when I realized that there really weren’t other ways that news from the board meetings is shared throughout the conference. The minutes don’t get posted until they are approved at the following board meeting, so they aren’t a timely source of information. Consequently, one of my commitments to you for the remainder of my term as moderator is to provide a summary after each board meeting.
The Conference Board met on February 22, at Dublin Community UCC. Much of the business at this particular meeting was hearing and discussing reports from leadership and staff. One part of the report from Transitional Conference Minister Dave Long-Higgins was a recommendation for a new name for the conference, a possibility that the board heard with interest. The board encouraged Dave to seek feedback from others, with the thought that this may ultimately be an action item at the Annual Gathering in September. Dave’s contribution to this e-newsletter is focused on that topic so I won’t say more here.
One notable action item was board approval for the next phase of improvements at Templed Hills, coupled with a decision for funding to come from a capital campaign. While much deferred maintenance was addressed last year as the camp was brought back from “sabbatical,” there is still much updating to be done. These won’t all be done at once, but in measured steps over the coming years.
The focus areas for this next step are reducing the carbon footprint at camp, making Skipper Lodge more hospitable for those with mobility challenges, and other improvements that will make camp more appealing to campers, churches, and outside groups.
We haven’t finalized the list of improvements, but they will include the following:
• Solar arrays to reduce the amount of electricity purchased from the grid
• A new HVAC system for Memorial Hall that will be far more efficient than the existing baseboard heat, and have the additional benefit of air conditioning in the summer. This is the building that houses the majority of overnight guests. Its two large gathering rooms are also used extensively by campers and various groups.
• Handicapped accessible restrooms on the main floor in Skipper Lodge (the dining hall)
Some may wonder why it is necessary to launch a capital campaign for these improvements when we received the funds from the sale of Pilgrim Hills in 2017. Indeed, we used a portion of these funds for the initial renovations and could do the same this year. However, the board knows from past experience how difficult it is for outdoor ministries to generate sufficient revenue to fully cover expenses. That’s why the board deliberately set aside over half the net proceeds from the sale of the other camp. These are in an endowment fund that is dedicated to faith formation initiatives, including outdoor ministries. Income from this fund make it possible to have a person dedicated to outdoor ministries on staff (currently Joyce Oyler). This endowment also funded the portion of the recent “Learn It, Live It, Share It” event with Lillian Daniel that wasn’t covered by registration fees. So rather than tapping the sales proceeds further, we have decided to reach out to churches and members across the conference, asking for financial support to make these additional improvements at Templed Hills.
We are in the process of forming the campaign committee (volunteers are welcome – and needed!) so stay tuned for more information about the improvements and the ways that you and your church can help!
This gives you a sense of the work that was done on your behalf at our last board meeting. I hope it is helpful to hear this news directly rather than to rely on word of mouth. Our next board meeting is scheduled for May 17.
Blessings during this season of Lent,
Moderator, Ohio Conference