Are there places where you can go and feel as if all is right in the world? Are there places where you can go and feel close to God? I know of several places like that and one of those places is Camp Sumatanga. Camp Sumantaga is the camp for the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church. As a kid, I was not into camp very much. I remember going to Cook Springs (a Baptist camp) when I was a kid and I remember how home sick I was (I actually still get homesick :-) ) I've been to Camp Sumatanga many times as an adult and I love that place. From the moment I drive through the sign posts at Sumatanga, I feel God's presence - whether I'm there for an Emmaus weekend or a "business meeting."
A few weeks ago, we had our fall staff retreat at Sumatanga. We didn't stay overnight so I didn't have to worry about getting homesick. Isn't that silly? Several of us rode on the church van and I really enjoyed the conversations that day. It is fun to get to know others better.
We arrived and immediately went to work. Andy opened our meeting with a short Bible study and prayer and then we dug in. Andy had asked for some numbers about our congregation and I learned a new skill - how to make pie charts and bar graphs using excel. I think it is cool that I'm a middle-aged mom and I can still learn new things!! We learned some interesting things about our congregation of 3,000 plus members. 27% of our congregation are young adults in their 20's and 30's. 25% of our congregation is under the age of 18. I think the average age of a United Methodist member nationwide is about 57 . . .and look at our amazing statistic. The other really interesting thing is that over half of our congregation does not live in the immediate area surrounding our church. Folks (like us!!) are driving several miles to church. I was a little bit (ok - really a lot!!!) intimidated when Andy asked me for all of these reports but it ended up being a fun (not really fun but interesting) project.
Ok - back to Sumatanga - sorry I got kind of side tracked there. We walked over to the dining room to eat lunch and there was a tractor sitting on the grassy area and this hat was just perched there on top . . .and I thought it would make a fun picture. It didn't turn out quite as fun as I thought!!
As we were walking back from lunch, I coerced some of the girls into climbing up on the rock . . .so I could take their picture!! (do you say take or make a picture? - I've always said "take" but that could be because I'm from Tarrant City!!) See these smiling faces - I am so lucky that I get to work with such wonderful folks. Haley, Karen, Jeanne and Linda are just four of the special folks that are on staff at Trinity!! Some of the staff was not with us and they are all special!! I remember when I was young and working in the corporate world and I remember working with folks who weren't nice so it really means a lot to me to work with all of these wonderful friends.
We all wrote our names on a piece of paper and Andy shuffled them and then we all picked a name. We then were charged with the task of writing a letter of affirmation to that person before day's end. When we came back from lunch, Scott was already hard at work on his letter. I guess that was what he was doing!! Maybe he was writing a new song for the tuba??? Just in case you didn't know - Scott is our minister of music and he plays the TUBA!!
It was a good and productive day and this middle-aged momma is so thankful to be on staff at this wonderful church!!