And just like that, a vote is cast and it is the end of an era.
Whether our vote is to close a church, end a marriage, choose hospice or to sell a camp there is always a mix of emotions and second-guesses. We wonder what would have been. We find ourselves thinking of all the “should haves” and “could haves”. We cast blame on others, as well as on ourselves.
There should be finality to it, but there’s not. Even if something should happen that suddenly offers the opportunity to reverse the decision – everything is forever changed.
And so we grieve.
We grieve not for what we’ve lost, but for what might have been. Perhaps with the right pastor, or an infusion of cash… perhaps with more counseling or an effective treatment things could have been different. We mourn the past as well as the future.
At last night’s Presbytery meeting we voted to sell the Vanderkamp Center. VK has been offering camp since the late 1960’s and was a joint effort on the part of our Presbytery as well as the Presbytery of Utica and the ELCA folks in upper NY. These two partners in this ministry had voted to sell the camp… and have been waiting on our decision. It was the sort of vote that cut to the heart of many even as we recognized that there were no other options. In order to purchase the camp from the other two judicatories, we’d need to spend every cent we had… and find another 300K. The necessity of the sale doesn’t make it any easier, or more palatable.
The good news is that we are a resurrection people. We know that the end is not always the end.
Last night spoke a great deal to who we were as we made that decision… what happens next speaks to who we will be as God’s people after this decision. The funds from the eventual sale will echo the values of Vanderkamp (as per NYS non-profit law). Because of this, there will be a legacy that honors those who first had a vision for that sacred ground as well as those who laughed and cried there and those that gave time, talent and treasure to its mission.
There are other ways to continue the legacy. Rita Hooper is coordinating the “Friends of Vanderkamp.” (If you’d like to join their efforts, you can find them on Facebook or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m also working on developing a website that celebrates the camp in stories and photos. It’s still in the rough stage (it won’t be quite right until you send me your own story!) but you can find it here: http://www.celebratingvanderkamp.org. We will also try to find time to gather safely at the camp for one last campfire.
Prayers for us all during this difficult season and particularly at this difficult time.