Suttle Lake Branches Out

November 01, 2018

Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries

Foundation 6: Partner with Local churches and Church-Related Organizations

by Jane Petke, Director of Suttle Lake Camp

I am the vine. You are the branches.

 -  John 15:5

One of the joys in serving in Camp and Retreat Ministries is being a part of the connectional United Methodist Church. Our ministry is intertwined with the work of the larger church and that of local congregations, yet distinct. Together we are all striving to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Suttle Lake Camp, like many of our camp settings, is located in a spot some might consider remote yet knowing that we are part of something much larger offers strength and direction for our ministry.  We are not literally alone in our work - we are interdependent upon one another - nor do all of us do this work for our ministry by ourselves. Much like the grapevines described in chapter 15 of John, we are woven with other branches of the church and rooted in Christ. This connection gives us purpose and nurtures us as we seek to bear abundant fruit through our work. Our relationship with one another, strengthens us and allows us to reach out further than we ever could alone.

During the Confirmation Retreat each spring, this beautiful connection is very tangible as United Methodist Churches both small (sometimes with just one youth attending with their mentor) and large come together to learn, worship, and grow. Our faith and understanding are enriched as we engage with acts of service, church history, the United Methodist social principles, Wesley's quadrilateral, and more. The conversations about how each individual and church lives in Christ informs and inspires in a way that cannot happen when one church meets on their own. The youth are blessed as they experience the larger body of Christ; as a camp leader I am blessed in meeting the youth, their leaders, and hearing about their ministry.

After hearing about the strengths and needs of churches and ministries from around the conference, our connection often inspires and encourages us to work together in creative ways.

From such conversations about collaboration, among many other cases, these instances stand out:

  • Strength For the Journey was born over 30 years ago to create a healing space for those living with HIV/Aids and continues to meet the changing challenges of those facing this disease;
  • Suttle Lake partnered with Fossil United Methodist to sponsor an intern who was exploring a call to ministry which also allowed the church to kick start a successful men’s Bible study;
  • Work continues with Sisters Habitat For Humanity to provide hardworking families in Central Oregon a needed time away together at Creation Vacation.

Together, we are able to reach more people in more ways!

© 2014 Camp and Retreat Ministries:

A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon