By Sharon Mager
GLYNDON, Md.—Horizon Church, and Fire & Light Community Church both participate in an annual ecumenical Vacation Bible School at Emory Grove Camp, just off Butler Road in Glyndon. In mid-July, the children played games outdoors; had Bible studies under pavilions; ate their snacks in an historic building, formerly a hotel on the grounds; and they worshiped in a “tabernacle” where evangelist Billy Sunday drew huge crowds at revival services in the early 1900’s.
“It works out really well,” said Mark Swan, pastor of Fire & Light Church. We have a good spirit of cooperation.
Clay Carver, pastor of Horizon Church, is excited to be able to work together with different churches in the community. They’ve been ministering together for several years, and now, Carver said, they’ve, “hit their stride with the right people in the right places,” he said, making the camp run very smoothly.
This year’s theme was “Going Deeper,” learning about Jesus and spending time getting to really know other people. Ben and Susan Carver, Clay’s parents, and members of Horizon Church, decorated the outdoor tabernacle area with a variety of sea creature pictures and hangings and other ocean themed accessories.
The week’s Bible passage was Psalm 139, focusing primarily on verse 14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
Throughout the week, elementary school students are the officials “campers,” while the older middle-school students were helpers.
The younger campers heard lessons that helped them go deeper in understanding that they and others were indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that Jesus wants them to spend time learning about and caring for one another, said Heidi Conley, camp director, a member of All Saints Episcopal Church and an area director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The crafts, games and other activities were all tied to the theme.
“We want them to ‘go deeper,’ to find out about other people and their struggles—to ask questions and discover who people really are,” Conley said.
Clay said this year there was more focus on ministry to and with the older students, drawing them together and creating a great bond. They met to discuss their daily assignments and to have a short devotional session. In one lesson, Clay used yarn to help them visualize the body of Christ, depending on Jesus and on one another. As the students held different parts of the yarn, like parts of a big spider web, Clay told them that’s how the early church was connected, they shared their gifts, and they shared their belongings with one another as there was need. They were one body.
While the students worked, they learned how what they ‘re doing at camp makes a real difference. As they swept the tabernacle area, Clay said the students learned that what they were dong took the burden off of others, made it easier for people to worship and it impacted the ministry.
“It was a powerful change,” Clay said.
Clay said he enjoys the camp because it’s such a great way to connect with the community, and to see that the local church is just a small part of a lot bigger picture of God’s grace.
The camp kicks off every year with a worship service in the tabernacle. The campers, their families and folks that have summer cottages in the historic campground area attend the annual service. There’s also a closing on Friday each year that draws families and friends and offers an opportunity to share the Gospel.
Heidi Conley said she started the camp about a decade ago to foster community in the body of Christ. She’s pleased at how God as blessed the effort.
In addition to Horizon Church and Fire & Light Church, participating churches were: Northminster Presbyterian Church, Reisterstown and All Saints Episcopal Church, Reisterstown.