Victory Mountain Camp
Retired college instructor and accountant Ed Winslow has several note cards hanging in his North Carolina home, each written by a parent or grandparent of a child who has been a camper at Victory Mountain Camp. Each note card has a similar message: "Thank you for helping to lead my child or grandchild to Jesus."
When the former Eagle Scout retired from working full time, he discovered he had flexibility with his time and could structure it the way he wanted to. Winslow, a member of First Wesleyan Church in High Point, serves as a cabin counselor for two weeks every year. He’s been doing it a long time. And he’s seeing the fruit.
“He appreciates his opportunity to be there and doesn’t take that for granted,” said Sherry Keye, director of children’s ministries for North Carolina East District. “He looks forward to serving at camp every year in the hot, humid North Carolina summer. It’s a sacrifice of comfort, relaxation and sleep, but Ed understands that it is all worth it to see kids receiving Christ.”
Just get involved.
Don’t ever quit.
And Winslow has been around long enough to note the impact on multiple generations: “I see kids who’ve grown up at camp and they’re coming back — they’re coming back and volunteering, training as counselors, coming back as pastors.” Winslow knows the kids are at camp to have fun. His goal, he says, is for them to grow spiritually. And, he chuckles, “we’re both going in the same direction in achieving both.”
He is well aware that working with kids isn’t everybody’s calling. “The Lord gives different people different skills. Working with children may not be their thing. They may be sitting on a church board. I’m doing what’s meaningful to me.” But whatever may be someone’s interest, he has advice for newly retired people with flexibility in their schedule: “Just get involved. Be involved. Don’t ever quit.”
As for Winslow, he’s taking his own advice and has given the camp director some instructions, “When I get too old, you tell me, and I’ll go bait hooks down at the lake.”
Love Chapel Hill
About an hour and fifteen minutes east of Victory Mountain Camp, in the congregation of Love Chapel Hill, others are finding ministry that’s meaningful to them. Love Chapel Hill meets in the Varsity, a landmark theater on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill that’s been a fixture of the neighborhood for over 50 years. Like other congregations across the denomination, on Pentecost Sunday, Love Chapel Hill celebrated National Church Multiplication Sunday, taking up the challenge to pray for church planters and collect a special offering.
The Love Chapel Hill church plant wanted to give away their offering, however. Part of it went to Lydia Odom, a recent University of North Carolina Chapel Hill college graduate and church member commissioned by Love Chapel Hill.
“One Sunday, we brought in Seth and Annelise Walker to share their vision for a new plant in Charleston,” said Rev. Matt LeRoy, teaching pastor at Love Chapel Hill. “Prior to the service, Lydia was praying for clear direction for her future. She felt the Holy Spirit speak ‘church planting’ into her heart. As the Walkers stood to share, Lydia knew she was looking at her future. She changed her career plans and moved that summer to become the first member of the core team for Harbor Town Church. We could not be more proud of her courageous obedience.”
It was a stirring reminder of all those who have blazed the trail as they follow the Spirit.
On Church Multiplication Sunday at Love Chapel Hill, generations merged as the congregation focused on supporting other church plants, not only financially, but also with prayer. While recent graduate Lydia Odom had been sent out, Rev. Carles Fletcher walked in to the nontraditional setting with theater seats. He joined in worship with the church plant that day. LeRoy remembers the occasion.
“We prayed by name for 10 of our partner plants and their pastors. We were blessed to have Rev. Carles worshipping with us. We asked him to come up and pray over the planters and churches, and over the future planters that the Holy Spirit is raising up.
“At 88 years old, Rev. Fletcher is an unassuming presence. But the whole church leaned in as they learned that in his 51 years of pastoral ministry, he planted the first and the last churches that he pastored. They were blown away as he prayed with a fiery passion, a heart still burning for the lost, his tenderness for people still fresh and right on the surface. It was a stirring reminder of all those who have blazed the trail as they follow the Spirit.”
Fletcher’s prayer recalls the words of Ed Winslow: “The Lord gives different people different skills. I’m doing what’s meaningful to me. Just get involved. Be involved. Don’t ever quit.”
The effects of engaging multiple generations spiral outward far beyond the reach of North Carolina.
As campers at Victory Mountain grow up through the elementary years, some training to be counselors, some returning as pastors, a similar cycle of welcoming and sending pulses through Love Chapel Hill, a community adept at tilting between inviting and commissioning. The effects of engaging multiple generations spiral outward far beyond the reach of the North Carolina Piedmont or the travel reach of the Love Chapel Hill Bus as the Spirit raises up young and old, new and aged, to reach the world for Christ.