December 17, 2018

An Open Letter for AZ Disciples RE: Re-emphasis and Re-imagining Youth & Children’s Ministry

On July 9, 2018, the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ and some of our Regional Staff gathered to rekindle a few past conversations.  Amid a few challenges, increasing camping costs and fewer donated resources for the same.  We, both are determined and resolute to continue providing sacred and natural spaces for our treasured ones’ faith and formation.  We are not only willing to re-imagine our camp programs.  But, also, bring a re-emphasis toward our youth and children’s faith formation.

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going.”  Together, we dreamed and re-imagined.  After finding a host of commonalities in our camp programs.  We asked, what would it look like for our summer camp programs to share in its resources of time, talent and treasure?  Both staffs were commissioned with areas for research, the consulting of related committees and a return with more answers.  Our related ministry teams responded with a consensus to follow the Spirit’s leading.  Together, one of the first questions was: where would we go to share in a sacred and natural space? Our Region is already committed to celebrate and host its next Midwinter Retreat at Camp Pine Rock on February 1 – 3, 2019.  Why not then?  Create another new space for us, to share and celebrate. We’ll have time to reflect and give thanks for CPR.

We shared some of this news with our AZ Disciples delegates last month at Regional Assembly.  We are still excited to announce our next summer camp program will be a joint endeavor with the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.  We have chosen to celebrate this upcoming event at Emmanuel Pines Camp & Conference Center on June 16– 21, 2019. 

Combining our efforts already has “warm up in its glowing.”  We’re happy to share that Rev. Jay Deskins, Regional Youth and Children’s Minister and Rev. Dr. Barbara Doerrer-Peacock, Associate Conference Minister have continued the work of our joint vision, helping to give shape and direction to this upcoming joint summer camp. We are grateful of the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, and for its agreement to share resources of time, talent and treasure in order to make this vision possible.  Almost, every day we are working and learning from each other around the “campfire.”

How can you help?  Please pray for the upcoming camp programs, for the volunteers, the conference and regional staffs.  Consider becoming a volunteer, help with local fundraising efforts and make donations earmarked to our Youth and Children programs.  Camp scholarships are always needed. Please feel free to email Rev. Jay Deskins at jdeskins@azdisciples.org for more ways you might help or lend your support. 

Blessings,

Rev. Richie Sanchez, Interim Regional Minister and President