Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Atlantic Southeast District holds ecumenical Family Peace Camp.

On Sept. 3-5 an intergenerational Family Peace Camp with a strong ecumenical flavor gave expression to the joys and challenges of living peaceably in these times, sponsored by the Action for Peace Team of Atlantic Southeast District, and hosted by Camp Ithiel.

More than 70 campers, including 10 teens and 13 children, sang, danced, played, and shared stories of how God's presence gives strength to carry the burdens of brokenness and struggle. Father Eric Haarer of the Roman Catholic Spiritual Life Institute in Crestone, Colo., and Ireland, led the adult sessions using the theme, "A Love Stronger than Our Fears" focusing on inner peace.

Haarer is a rare find among religious leaders. He grew up in a Mennonite home in Michigan, was baptized as a youth into Lansing (Mich.) Church of the Brethren, and found his calling to a Roman Catholic religious vocation while serving in a Mennonite volunteer project. He has found peace and meaning for his Anabaptist heart within the tent of the Roman Catholic Church.

In a few hours of fellowship and worship, the camp group came together as a vibrant, caring community of faith made up of Brethren, Catholics, Christian and Missionary Alliance members, and people of other Christian traditions. An older Baptist woman led a band of young girl campers in colorful rhythmic liturgical dance during congregational singing. A mixed age praise band, with very little rehearsal, combined fiddles, bass guitar, ukulele, recorder, and keyboard in skillful harmony.

"Each person has a unique journey," was one camper’s response to the event. "There is quiet pain and burden-bearing in young people as well as in older folks. Somehow this camp helped us reveal some of the dark stuff and let it go, giving room for trust and laughter and faith to be confirmed and enriched."

A planning group has been named to arrange for the 2011 Family Peace Camp, to take place at Camp Ithiel in Gotha, Fla., on Sept. 2-4. Everyone is welcome!

-- Merle Crouse is a member of the Action for Peace Team.

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