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Wednesday's Whim

Wednesday’s Whim: Radical

I try to keep my Facebook checking to a minimum with varying success. In fact, I recently took the app off my phone to limit its convenience. That said, one page I do follow is called Unvirtuous Abbey. It’s usually good for a chuckle and a pause. This morning, whoever is behind the page posted this with the following picture:

That Christians may embrace diversity, practice radical inclusivity, and see Christ in the stranger, we pray.

pigs

Recently, I shared a three part vision I have for Camp Stevens with the staff and the board. It comes out of a lot of listening to staff, guests, board members, donors, and other friends, as well as my own experience and hope for this place. It goes something like this:

I want Camp Stevens to be a place of environmental advocacy and sustainability, radical welcome and holy hospitality, and spiritual openness and intentionality with an Episcopal identity.

We’ve got some work to do to really flesh out what each of those looks like day-to-day and we’ve started some of that work already.

Our environmental advocacy and sustainability is likely the most known and visible – from farm to table and environmental education programs to solar panels and purchasing. But we can also re-evaluate what we’re currently doing and look at new opportunities.

The third area about remaining spiritually open and intentional with an Episcopal identity is one that we’ll work on and talk about quite a bit down the road. I’d like to see us take more ownership of and pride in our roots with the Episcopal Church while remaining a place where all are welcome to be and experience spirituality in their own way. (I recognize this is a tricky but exciting line to walk.) As one staff person put it a couple years ago, when a guest asks about our Episcopal connection around the Dining Hall table, our response should be: “We are an Episcopal camp AND …” rather than “but.”

But the area I’m especially interested in exploring these days is this idea of radical welcome and holy hospitality. The question I’m asking is:

“What does radical welcome and holy hospitality look, sound, and feel like to guests, campers, camper parents, and others who come in contact with Camp Stevens?”

This is why the Unvirtuous Abbey post this morning struck me: “That Christians may embrace diversity, practice radical inclusivity, and see Christ in the stranger, we pray.”

A little background. Since January, I’ve had the privilege of being part of two conversations with other Episcopal camp folks about holy hospitality. Holy hospitality is loosely defined as hospitality and welcome that puts aside fear to ask hard questions about how we can serve others who are different from us within the umbrella of our mission. Or, again, hospitality that embraces diversity, practices radical inclusivity, and sees Christ in the stranger.

During these casual conversations, there were two populations that became case studies, if you will. We all shared how we are (and aren’t), and how the church is (and isn’t) offering radical welcome and holy hospitality to those with a history of personal or familial alcohol abuse and those who are transgendered. As a church – an Episcopal Church – we often pride ourselves on the availability of alcohol at church functions. But how often do we consider that providing alcohol as hospitality may hinder the experience of others? And what are we doing to welcome as guests, campers, staff, and counselors members of the LGBTQ community? What should we be doing, based on our context? And – and I’m sorry for this – what would Jesus do?

I am feeling energized by this new focus in vision, spurred by the work done last fall toward our new mission and values and a six-goal strategic plan. And as always, I am open and eager to hear your thoughts and observations along the way!

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Whim: “sudden idea.” This monthly post promises a number of things: personal thoughts and reflections, showing off Camp Stevens’ programs and staff, announcements for upcoming opportunities, and answering questions or responding to comments “from the audience.” If you have a topic or question you’d like addressed, just e-mail Beth!

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