Sunday, February 28, 2010

What happened this weekend, through my eyes anyway...

I can't begin to find the words to express my disappointment, and mine is nothing compared to the heartbreak of many others.
I took the day off work Friday and Paul and I drove upisland on Thursday night. We attended the presbytery meetings at Knox United Church on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. The main objective of these meetings was to decide the fate of Moorecroft Camp.
A little bit of history: My family has been involved with the camp for 6 decades, as long as the United Church has had stewardship of it. My grandparents and other family members frequently attended work-bees to maintain the camp, helped with fund-raising efforts and even volunteered as camp counselors etc. for many years. I don't even know the full extent of what contributions have been made to the camp over the years. My brothers and I attended summer camps there most summers as we were growing up and when I was in Girl Guides we had our camps there as well. Two of my aunts were married there, one in Kennedy Hall and one at Vesper Point. The place and its ministry has always had a special place in our family. I regret not living upisland for any portion of my adult life because I wish now that I could have been more involved.
I don't know what this place means to other families but some stories I have heard are those of former campers who met at Moorecroft, had significant involvement with the camp, and are now married with children of their own who could have gone to Moorecroft. Unfortunately that will not likely happen.
The presbyters, for numerous reasons, voted to sell the camp.
Their preference was for the camp to be sold, with a Conservation Covenant in place, and for the buyer to be someone like the RDN who would make it into a park and allow the Moorecroft Camp Society to lease the facilities back for camping programs in the summers. We'll see how that goes but I have a few predictions...
An air of distrust between the presbyters and conference seemed to permeate the meetings, snide comments were handed down from on high, and subtle threats were inferred. The distrust was not, in my opinion, unfounded. For example, the packet of information provided to the presbyters clearly stated that a Conservation Covenant is very rarely attached to a property at any time other than at the transfer of title. When the NALT representatives were present on Saturday morning a presbyter asked them if this was the standard procedure. Without pausing for a moment the representative explained that covenants are almost always placed on a piece of property well before sale. NALT only monitors one covenant placed on a property at the time of sale. That covenant was the desire of both the owner and the buyer. This coupled with language in conference documents like, "in as much as possible" and "all things being equal" leads me to believe that if they found a buyer who did not want the covenant then they would not put it on at the time of the sale as desired by presbytery.
As far as I could tell the presbyters were being lead to believe that selling was the only responsible option. The option not to sell the camp came with many strings attached and consequences that were repeatedly reiterated by conference representatives. The most daunting of them, that Moorecroft would be the sole financial responsibility of the Nanaimo-Comox presbytery and the Moorecroft Camp Society. No money would be coming to Moorecroft from BC Conference. The second part of this ultimatum was that the camp would have to meet the standards set out by Conference for it to be allowed to operate. Basically, you can't have our money but you must follow our rules. This accompanied by numerous graphs plotting the demise of the entire United Church scared a lot of people into taking the safe option, the money.
So once again the church chooses the almighty dollar over the almighty God. As my dad put it, "If the streets of heaven are paved with gold, why would you trade something like Moorecroft for pavement?" I can't help but think that this could have been avoided in so many ways but as one speaker said, the church has grown bored with Moorecroft and they'd rather throw it away than have to deal with it any more.
At this time it looks like camping will go ahead for the summer of 2010, here is the link to the camp's website:

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