Religion & Spirituality:Christianity
In this episode, Coffee Hour at The Commons is on the road again, back at Camp Washington, the summer camp and year-round conference center of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut and located on 300 acres in the northwestern hills of the state. Technically, they’re in Morris but their mailing address is in Lakeside. The topic is inspired by a resolution passed at last summer’s General Convention, A010, which called attention to the role that these diocesan camps play in the work of caring for creation. It also asked them to plant groves of trees. (See the resolution for details).
Our guests are two camp staff members and a trustee on the board: Bart Geissinger, Executive Director of Camp Washington since 2015 whose previous work had been as development director at several private schools and foundations; Ben Thompson, the chef and food services director at Camp Washington for nearly two decades; and the Rt. Rev. Laura J. Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut since 2007. Laura oversees several environment ministry networks and serves on the Camp’s board of directors.
We started by talking more broadly about the very first part of that resolution, where it states the importance of Episcopal camps and conference centers in environmental stewardship and care for creation, and heard how Camp Washington does this.
Bart talked about infrastructure (energy efficiencies and consideration of solar power); Ben shared how he goes about selecting vendors when considering food supply, often choosing local and organic food sources. They’ve also put in some raised bed gardens. Not only have these produced great vegetables, but it’s included as part of the summer program for children attending camp. They love to weed! The n chaplains also use the gardens as an opportunity for teaching about God’s creation.
Ben has also started tapping maple trees to make syrup to use at the Camp. They talked about the Christmas tree farm they’ve planted; what they’ve learned from it; and how they hope to use it as a draw for some related events in the future.
Laura talked about how the “practical” is also the “sacred” – The physical beauty of the setting at Camp invites people into a sense of spirituality that people may not find in other places, she said, and it’s why she likes to hold meetings and other events at Camp.
Next we talked about the land and its features, including water, trails, and trees. Bart mentioned their outdoor camping program, and their outdoor chapel. Ben, who’s lived on the property with his family for about 17 years, gave more insight into its history and some of the animals he’s seen.
Bart said that there’s a sense of relief when people arrive, they still complain that it’s too far to travel to get to the Camp. They’re working on how people prepare.
Laura returned to the idea of the outdoor chapel as a place where she feels particularly at peace and Bart talked about other ways they use the outdoors as a place for worship.
We turned back to the resolution again and its call for Episcopalians to plant trees. Camp Washington is open to it, if there’s energy for it, and we discussed Region Confirmation events at Camp as a possible opportunity. Laura wondered if it was something that could be done in a local context.
We ended with final questions to each of them about how they see God at Camp and how their experience of God’s creation, at Camp, contributes to their spiritual life. You need to hear these answers!
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Episode 50: Illuminating the Cosmic Christ: Seeing in a new way; yearning for connection
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Episode 48: Be not conformed, a conversation with Kelli Gibson
Episode 47: Jerusalem Peacebuilders with the Rev. Cn. Nicholas Porter
Episode 46: Christ Church Cathedral's Centennial
Episode 45: Lay Preaching with Eliza Marth and Anne Hall
Episode 44: Good Friday Meditation with Bishop Laura J. Ahrens
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Episode 42: Archives: the quilting point of our history with Greg Farr
Episode 41: The Gift of Multiplicity of Expression with the Rt. Rev. Dr. Carol Gallagher
Episode 40: Witnessing Miracles at Shepard Meadows
Episode 39: International Women's Day & UNCSW with Lois Frankforter
Episode 38: The Way of Love with Jerusalem Greer
Episode 37: Young, Married, and Clergy with the Revs. Carrie and Nik Combs
Episode 36: Ears Tuned to the Holy with the Rev. Tuesday Rupp
Episode 35: Talking about Absalom Jones and the Union of Black Episcopalians with the Hon. Steven Mullins
Episode 34: Voices from the Black Diaspora
Episode 33: Surfs up with Matt Lindeman
Episode 32: Joining Jesus in the New Missional Age
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