Our Director of Marketing and Off Site Ministry at Covenant Pines Ministries, Holly Abramson shares a message about about practicing our value Embrace Healthy Change. This is the sixth and final in a series where we will be sharing how we at CPM live into our six core values.
Embrace healthy change
I have spent seven years full time and 11 total summers working for Covenant Pines, not including the years I attended as a camper and junior staffer – you might say I like the place! Camp is one of those places that people, including myself, have deep, emotional and spiritual connection to, as we often experience pivotal moments in our lives there. This is all a positive thing, of course, but sometimes I have noticed in myself that this deep connection can cause hesitation for change. I tend to want things to stay the same – the way that I experienced them when I was a kid, or a college student on summer staff.
As I have grown as a professional and a leader, I’ve come to realize the important and delicate balance of making changes that improve our ministry and making changes just for the sake of making them. The core value, Embrace Healthy Change at CPM is one that I feel is difficult at times but necessary for a flourishing ministry. This value is one that is ongoing for us to live into, as we process changes all around us – in churches, in students, in culture, etc. Healthy conversations and prayer help us embrace this, along with wise decision making and responses. We’ve recently done this to make a change within CPM that I am happy to share with you today!
When Covenant Pines Ministries rebranded in 2008 we had four ministry centers – Covenant Pines Bible Camp, Adventurous Christians, Silver Beach Family Camp and Covenant Pines Day Camp. For the past few summers, our Covenant Pines Day Camp program has needed some reevaluation and with COVID-19 we put a pause on the program. When I was hired in 2019, my title of Director of Marketing and Off Site Ministry insinuated that I would oversee the Day Camp Program, but also any other ministry events that don’t happen on site at either of our three ministry centers. With our Day Camp Program needing a pause, and my role already being Director of Off Site Ministry, it only made sense to rebrand this ministry center. We are happy at Covenant Pines Ministries to introduce a pivot in our fourth ministry center – Covenant Pines Off Site!
Covenant Pines Off Site includes all ministry and events that happen away from Covenant Pines Bible Camp, Silver Beach Family Camp and Adventurous Christians. You will start to see this new logo pop up on CPM materials and on our website. We’re excited for this fourth ministry center to expand beyond just Day Camps and include other events and opportunities for people involved with CPM.
So, what happens to Day Camp? To be honest, we’re not quite sure yet – we’re still figuring that out. The beauty of Covenant Pines Off Site is that it can include Day Camp in the future if that is something we see as a fit for our ministry. Those conversations will be happening in future, as I’ve got to embrace a healthy change of my own happening in my personal life. My husband Miles and I are welcoming a baby boy into our family sometime in early September! The future of Day Camp and the planning of other exciting Off Site Ministry events will happen when I am back to work sometime in November 🙂
To read our previous value highlights, click below:
Our Guest Service Director at Adventurous Christians, Lina Swanson shares a message about about practicing our value Live Good Stewardship. This is the fifth in a series where we will be sharing how we at CPM live into our six core values.
Live Good Stewardship
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20) This is one of the bible verses that come to mind when I think of CPM’s core value “Live Good Stewardship”. At AC we get the chance to envelop ourselves in God’s creation and see and God’s wonder and power through it. Watching the sunset from a big rock on the edge of a lake or snowshoeing through snow covered trees, I am always reminded of God’s intentionality and care for this world that he has made.
Along with the opportunity to enjoy creation close up, we also have a responsibility to help care for creation. Lessening human impact on the wilderness areas helps it to thrive and be around for many more generations to experience. While on canoe trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness we practice “leave no trace” wilderness ethics. These guidelines help us to minimize the effects of human travel through the woods.
When thinking about stewardship, I also think about how faithful God has been in providing physical resources like equipment and gear that are needed for retreats and canoe trips. This spring we were blessed by all the Portage Partner donations that made it possible for us to update our lifejackets, paddles and other trail gear. In order to be good stewards of these resources, so they can last as long as the ones we are replacing, we take great effort to care of our gear and equipment and teaching our guests the proper way to use and care for equipment as well.
To read our previous value highlights, click below:
Our Executive Director at CPM, Dave Cairns shares a message about about living into our value Open,Honest, Direct Communication. This is the fourth in a series where we will be sharing how we at CPM live into our six core values.
Open, Honest, Direct Communication
When I was asked to write this values highlight, I had a direction in mind that I thought I was going. After the events transpired over the weekend in the Twin Cities, I felt compelled to pivot and change directions. I share this with you – a supporter of Covenant Pines Ministries, as my goal is to communicate openly, honestly and directly about where my heart and mind has been this past week.
I’m hurting. Not physically, but on a much deeper level. Once again our community and region has seen the tragic death of a black man. Daunte Wright was killed less than 5 miles from my house and is the same age as one of my sons. I’m frustrated and angry. I’m hurting. And yet, I know that I can’t understand the anguish and pain that others feel. My emotions are limited by my experiences, my skin color, my privilege.
Why do I share this? One of CPM’s core values is Open, Honest, Direction Communication and I’m trying to live into this value. Over the past few months, different staff members have written on one of our six value statements. These statements frame our ministry.
And so, I write with a transparency that is uncomfortable for me. I share a vulnerability that makes me feel exposed, for I like to keep my cards close to my vest. I strive to be that pillar of strength and consistency. Not only do I share this with you all, but our staff have been openly sharing, praying and processing what is going on in Brooklyn Center this week as well. We have found that this year, communication has been key, even when it is difficult to understand each other or when things are painful to discuss.
In Zechariah 8:16, the prophet instructs us to “speak the truth to one another.” I fully acknowledge the difficulty this can be at times. As Executive Director of Covenant Pines Ministries it would sometimes be easier to create my own narrative about CPM. One that places our ministry in the best light, highlighting all our strengths, while covering up our shortcomings. While living into this value, my hope is that we at CPM communicate with transparency both externally, to our churches, campers, donors and supporters; as well as internally on our staff and board. At times, this is easy – like sharing a positive camper story or giving the update that we exceeded our goal for the Big Picture Campaign. At other times, this is difficult – when having to share the decision to cancel all youth programs in 2020 or like this week, lamenting alongside our grieving church communities after a tragedy. We strive to do both.
Our hope is that we continue to embrace this value by answering your questions honestly, communicating with transparency and effectiveness, recognizing mistakes and acknowledging a path forward. It is my prayer that as you interact with our staff, you will experience this core value being lived out.
To read our previous value highlights, click below:
Our Camp Director at CPBC shares a message about what he has learned about living into our value Reflect and Cultivate Diversity. This is the third in a series where we will be sharing how we at CPM live into our six core values.
Reflect And Cultivate Diversity
For many of us, there are songs that speak to us, songs that go deeper than the lyrics or notes should be able to on their own. They are more impactful than just the sum of their respective parts. I don’t remember the first time I heard the song, “I need you to survive” by Hezekiah Walker, but this song is one of those songs for me. Here are a few of the lyrics.
I need you.
You need me.
We’re all a part of God’s body.
You are important to me.
I need you to survive.
As I was reflecting on our core value of reflecting and cultivating diversity I couldn’t get this song out of my head. Usually when a song is stuck in my head it’s not a pleasant or particularly enjoyable experience, but on this occasion each time the song took up residence, it brought a smile to my face. It fed me and produced a deep level of joy in my heart. On one level this song is about humanity’s interconnectedness, our need for one another. For me it brings to mind 1 Corinthians 12 and Paul’s image of the body being made up of many parts each contributing to the whole. If one part suffers, all parts of the body suffer with it and if one part is honored all rejoice. Still, the title implies something even deeper; our very survival depends on one another.
Unfortunately we don’t always experience things this way and we certainly don’t always live this way. In our culture self-reliance is championed and dependence is something we are taught to grow out of. Children are dependent at birth by necessity, but our culture tells us this dependence eventually becomes a sign of weakness. On the few occasions when dependence on one another and on God is modeled, we usually stick to relying on the familiar voices that look like us, talk like us, and often tell us what we want to hear.
Sadly, our world is segmented and separated. It is filled with homogenous groups that fail to recognize their blinders or their deficiencies because they don’t have diverse voices to tell them otherwise. Maybe in their mind they are surviving, but I don’t believe they are flourishing or living into all that God has called them to be.
I’m thankful for Covenant Pines and our commitment to be a place where all are welcomed, where youth and families from different walks of life come together at the foot of the cross and experience God and learn from one another. Whether sitting in the dining hall at a meal or around a campfire at night, camp exists to tear down the walls that all too often separate us in the outside world. It’s a place where kids can arrive on Monday not knowing each other and leave a short week later with deep and meaningful connections with people they may not have spent time with at home. The same thing happens throughout the year when families gather and break bread and worship together, they leave with a deeper understanding and connection with those around them, even those who are different.
Diversity isn’t an extra. It isn’t just a good idea. It is necessary for survival. I need you. You need me. We need you all to survive. Singular and plural, as individuals, we need each other and we need the larger community. You need us and us need you. Forgiving the poor grammar in that sentence, what I’m trying to say is that communities need other diverse communities in order to survive. We, (whomever the we is), need you (whatever community that you represents) and vice versa. This is how God created us and this is who we aspire to be.
One of the lines of the song states, “I won’t harm you with words from my mouth, I love you, I need you to survive.” Can you imagine what the world would be like if we lived like this, if people didn’t injure others with the words they spoke and if words were a tool to build others up instead of tearing them down? While we certainly aren’t perfect, this is who Covenant Pines aspires to be, a safe place where all are welcome. A place where people know their value given to them by God and where diverse people can care for each other and experience the love of Christ; everyone, no exceptions. I need you. You need me. We need each other to survive. Thanks be to God for that.
To read our previous value highlights, click below:
Our Camp Director at AC, Matt loves camp and loves people – but how do we prioritize the two? Below is a message from him talk on what he has learned about living into our value People Over Projects. This is the second in a series where we will be sharing how we at CPM live into our six core values. To read the first article, click here.
People over projects
People over projects. It sounds like a very simple premise. Of course, actual living feeling people are more important than most any task! Tasks will pass away after this life but people’s hearts are forever with their gifts and fears and ideas and challenges and complexity. But yet I find that it is still easy to miss, misread, or speed past a person’s heart much more frequently than I hope I would.
In my first winter at AC we experienced one of those days where multiple things were happening at the same time. Guests, staff, and physical tasks all validly striving for my attention in the same moments. My response to the demand was to choose plowing snow as I knew that I would be able to achieve this needed task in the time I had available. Better to do something I know will be a win versus something I may or may not do well in the time I had. It even seemed like the most unsung, servant hearted thing to do. And the staff seemed like they know what they are doing. Sensible. Right? I was later informed in a bold but loving way by a disappointed staff that the “best” choice was not the best choice. They had felt abandoned. They needed my support in that moment. I chose to do the task instead of listen long enough to understand.
That situation resolved in some great conversations and deepened relationships. But the issues connected to it have stayed in my mind. This is not the first time I missed the indicators. Here are a few thoughts that I have had about myself. I’m sure this list is different from person to person but I hope it helps jog folks own thinking. A passage that has led me these observations is Luke 10:38-42
- I am able to trust God to watch over the tasks while I prioritize the people God has appointed for me to be with. I will never get every job I think of done. God still controls the earth. He can be trusted if I don’t finish something. He has entrusted me with being in people’s lives. It has felt like a risk to let Him hold things together but I have learned a lot by “letting” Him watch my back while I treat people with the care He has asked me to.
- I can train my heart to see other hearts. I often spend a lot of time on me. Most of it good. Improving or trying to learn more about being who I should be, etc. But the ability to see beyond myself is a skill I can and need to practice. Even good things can obscure a heart.
- I recognize that if the tasks that prepare for people keep me too busy, I may fail to see what those people need. If getting there is the whole mission, I may lose the chance to make use of the opportunity the work has made.
- I can’t fear failing in people’s view of my productivity. I can often think I’m not doing enough and try to do more. If this blinds me, I will miss important moments.
- I’m a people too. Scripture asks us to be willing to do hard things and suffer at times. It also asks us to obey. This can involve sacrifice at times. But I have been learning that my own heart’s needs is a people worth listening too. I find that if I do this I actually am learning how to be with another person’s heart. My familiarity with my pains and true thoughts enable me to listen well.
I pray I am not done learning how to let the Holy Spirit help me choose the best priorities.