By Amanda Highben
Living in God’s Time: Amazing Grace 2014
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3.1
Although you might think of yourself as someone who is pretty familiar with St. John’s Amazing Grace Day Camp program, especially as we prepare for our 15th year—which could be hard for some of us to believe!— it’s worth revisiting our mission and how this vital outreach ministry to neighborhood children and their families first began. Of course, because our newer members and friends might not know as much about “AG”, consider this an introduction and, most importantly, an *invitation* for our entire parish to pray for another Spirit-filled, fun and safe week of Day Camp.
Amazing Grace is a unique blend of outdoor ministry and congregational evangelism and outreach. In partnership with the Southern Ohio Synod, it is hosted by local congregations and staffed by Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in Ohio [or, LOMO] counselors, who are primarily college students and young adults. The Logan-Athens Cluster initiated AG in 1993 and, since then, it has expanded throughout the Synod. 15 churches will host this summer.
- Provides an opportunity to invite new children and their families to experience the Gospel; in many cases, these children do not have a church home of their own and are from families that struggle to make ends meet.
- Values Christ-like relationships and the safety and well-being of campers; as such, a staff to youth ratio of not greater than 1:10 is required.
- Provides a camping experience for children who may not be able to attend a resident camp.
As an instrument of outreach and love to the unchurched, hosting congregations are asked to invite and build meaningful relationships with those who have not yet heard about or experienced Christ’s love for them and the world God created. This is our gift and privilege as the body of Christ here at St. John’s—which is to say, serving at AG this summer is not just another volunteer opportunity. Instead, this week of camp is at the heart of who we are and what we are called to do as Jesus’ disciples in the world.
There are a myriad of tasks you can help with during the week of Amazing Grace. But, above all, the most simple and yet essential thing you have to offer is your presence: your presence as a caring adult who is willing to listen to, talk with, cherish and give your time to our campers. In this, we follow the example of Jesus who “took [little children] up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10.16).