When my wife and I moved to Memphis in September of 2018, I entered a world of construction. I had been called to serve as a new associate rector at Holy Communion, Memphis, which was already in the midst of a large renovation, and through mutually beneficial circumstances, we came to reside on campus at St. Columba Camp and Retreat Center.
In short order, after a generously supported Capital Campaign, it began the construction of new lodges, now the finished and beautiful Coleman and Johnson buildings. In addition to some critical maintenance after the last couple of severe ice storms, construction has continued as you’ll notice upon entrance of the camp, with new housing for additional staff quickly going up!
There are challenges of course. In the interim, one must make use of spaces that were not designed or intended for the use to which one must adapt them. One must keep an eye out for errant nails and dodge multi-tracked construction vehicles barging through the tunnels of branch and canopy. There is noise and mess.
And then, suddenly, there is new and finished possibility. The dance of inconvenience shifts and you find yourself stronger for it, not unlike the wildernesses through which our ancestors in faith traveled, and survived, and met God. The muscles of adaptiveness and creativity, sharpened by necessity, now have a blank slate upon which to offer new and exciting work. Living or working or utilizing a space designed for the uses to which you to put it make it sing, to the harmony of the gratitude in your heart. Mere stone and wood are transfigured into a terrarium of community, spirit, and growth.
Through Capital campaign, construction, pandemic, recovery from multiple ice storms, and new growth, I haven gotten to see St. Columba go through the hard work of preparing to welcome friend and stranger alike as Christ. Atop the city of Memphis like a crown, within the city limits and far enough away to feel like a woodland oasis, your Camp and Retreat Center is filling its calendar, and hopes to host you, the Episcopalians who are its owners, stewards, caretakers, and cheerleaders.
People come to know God, themselves, and others here in the quiet of retreat, in the birdcall of creation, in the shouts and giggles of campers in the lake or the mudpit. Even amidst the challenging demographic changes our culture is experiencing, Camps remains a lively intersection of faith and curiosity, church-goer and unchurched, seeker and survivor.
It’s a ministry of encounter here, of intention and space. St. Columba is grounded in the virtue of hospitality, a virtue so many Episcopalians value and excel in. It’s a gift extended to you too! Come see, experience and participate in this good work and ministry that you have enabled. Take some intentional personal time in a hermitage. Bring your parish or a group to retreat.
Seek. Slide. Play. Pray. Your St. Columba has grown and continues, and is ready to welcome and serve!