By Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
Over 100 people gathered together on Saturday, April 13th, to join in a great day of celebration. The day began with tours of our newly improved and restored Loch Leven camp, as well as activities for all ages. Our amazing Loch Leven staff served a delicious lunch and there were lots of opportunities for fellowship, to share stories and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation on that sun soaked day.
That afternoon everyone gathered for a time of celebration. Camp manager Sloan Hamilton helped with the development of a beautiful new garden area at Loch Leven that we were dedicating that day and introduced David Burch, whose family, through their wonderful generosity, had made it possible.
Following this dedication, Sloan then lifted up the amazing work of Tom Reed, whose quiet, but dedicated work around the camp has created and opened up new areas for the camps use and future development. She then introduced Rev. Mike Fronk and Rev. Julie Roberts-Fronk, pastors of FCC Pomona where Tom is a member. They shared a little about Tom and his desire to make a difference with his life.
We then had the opportunity to celebrate and honor all the work, dedication, and care of Sloan Hamilton these past 8 years for our beloved Loch Leven camp. Sloan announced that she would be completing her ministry with us this May 2019. Though there was much sadness around this news, we also shared a great deal of appreciation, love and joy for all she and Joseph have done for our Loch Leven camp, its programs, its people and its surroundings. Many who were there shared words of thanks, love, appreciation as well as letting Sloan know that she will be deeply missed. Gifts were presented to her from her staff and the Region.
Below are some of the things shared for this wonderful day of celebration at Loch Leven.
Dedication of Burch Gardens – April 13, 2019
On behalf of my family, we can’t thank you enough for honoring my mom and dad, Darrell and Anna Burch, with this garden.
I’d like to start with a summary of my parent’s faith journey. My mother grew up in the South side of Columbus Ohio with 5 brothers and sisters in a troubled home. Her father was an alcoholic and died when she was 14, but she was blessed to live next door to a Disciple pastor, named Reverend Sebastian. He became a father figure for her and made sure she had the chance to be involved in church activities including church camp. Her high school church camp experiences proved to be an important beginning for her Christian faith. She met several life-long friends and the experience showed her the meaning of a loving family and church community.
My mother met my dad while he was attending Ohio State and they were married in 1951 in Columbus, Ohio. Mom made sure they quickly became members of the Fourth Avenue Christian Church near the Ohio State University campus. Their move to California in 1960 led to a search for a Disciple church family here, and they became members of the First Christian Church of Orange. They were devoted members there for over 50 years and were continually blessed by their church family.
My mother’s church experience provided faith and direction that she then passed on to all of us. We are still benefiting from her faith and guidance today and I believe our grandchildren will continue to be impacted. This is especially relevant today because my mother is just one example of how a church experience can transform lives. Like the impact that my mother’s initial camp and church experiences had on our family, the contributions of Sloan and Tom will impact lives for decades to come. Their years of devoted and compassionate work has directly and indirectly changed lives. We are very grateful to help celebrate your contributions today and to remember the transforming impact this camp can have.
After our family came to California, one of our first family pictures was at Loch Leven’s Inspiration Point during a retreat with our new Orange church family. In addition to myself, my brother, sister and then my children have attended several camps at Loch Leven. Mom also volunteered her time for years as the camp registrar, as she was committed to helping young people have this important experience.
Since my dad was a scientist and was raised in rural Ohio, it was important to him that we grew up with an appreciation of nature and that we learn the importance of protecting our environment. Family vacations included time spent hiking and camping. These adventures revealed my mother’s contagious sense of awe and wonder. She became an avid birder and backyard gardener. We are therefore very grateful to honor our parents and their love of our Disciples church and nature. The ability to honor both of them with this beautiful garden that campers and visitors to Loch Leven can enjoy is a perfect fit.
The Burch Family
Dedication of the Tom Reed area at Loch Leven – April 13, 2019
Once there was a man named Tom who said, “Chasing a little white ball around is not my idea of fun. I want to do something useful in my retirement. Do you think Loch Leven could use some volunteer help?” Apparently, the answer was “Yes.” Instead of whacking and chasing after a little white golf ball, Tom took the Sisyphean task of clearing flood debris stone by stone, bucket full of dirt by bucket full.
Tom’s work is a parable we’d all do well to recall when distressed about the often slow nature of individual and collective change. Transformation, genuine transformation is slow, patient work. It requires disciplined showing up, persistence in the face of pain. It is sometimes done alone, but always in the container of community support. Genuine transformation means taking on the mantle of a servant, getting our hands dirty with actual work, sometimes physically taxing, sometimes even boring.
Transformation, authentic transformation is slow, patient work. What we see now is literally years in the making, a commitment to follow through again and again.
May we remember, as we revisit this place, it is a space transformed by slow, patient, hard, not seeking attention for self, work.
May we recognize our need as community of faith to be transformed in the same way.
Rev. Mike Fronk & Rev. Julie Roberts-Fronk
Commissioning for Sloan and Joseph
Today we come to celebrate the ministry and work of Sloan Hamilton as our Loch Leven Camp manager and her husband Joseph.
Together they have served this camp and this community for the past eight years.
They have strengthened and grown this camp ministry.
They have cared for the land and the buildings. They have loved the people.
They have led the staff. They have grown the programs.
During these past eight years we have seen a dream come true in the refurbishing of our Campbell Lodge as the centerpiece of this wonderful Loch Leven Camp.
Thanks to the amazing leadership of Sloan, we will celebrate today the Tom Reed area and also the Burch Family Gardens.
Loch Leven also served as the place for many years for our annual Rock the Loch event.
Sloan has also been instrumental in building positive relationships with our forestry department, the local fire departments, as well as friends in the Mountain Home community.
She has developed work groups from our churches to the Boy Scouts, to prison workers, local community groups and from Americore.
Along the way each of these work groups has help add new areas to the camp.
Areas like Archery, Mr. Majestic, our tree climbing area, additional paths, trails, and bridges, as well as developing the area for our tent platforms and so much more!
Under Sloan’s leadership, we have made great strides in strengthening the infrastructure of our camp and bringing much-needed repairs to this place we love.
As camp manager, Sloan has also grown and trained our amazing staff and increased its use beyond our summer camping program.
She has developed wonderful relationships across the life of our Region and lifted Loch Leven to place of great appreciation as a central part of our Region’s ministry.
We are indebted to Sloan’s dedication and commitment to making Loch Leven a place where everyone is welcome, people can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and develop a deeper spiritual awareness. Thank you Sloan!
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan