By Michael Yoder


It happened again today.

It’s the pleasant conversation that keeps repeating itself with different names, different faces, at different places.  This conversation went something like this:

“We are back here with our family reunion.” said the Grandpa.  “We worked here as summer camp staff and we’ve been coming back for many years.”  With a broad smile on her face, Grandma chimed in, “I remember coming here in jr. high for camp.”

Recently our first week of camp launched – Explorers, ages 8-10 – and I experienced again the important reason for the ministry of Laurelville.  One evening after dinner, I strolled up to the Youth Village to participate in their evening Gathering Worship time.  I arrived at the tail end of the carnival (which meant that I caught a water balloon in the back as well!) and observed the transition into worship.

Imagine it with me:  DSC_4635

The angle of the evening Sun streaming through trees making everything awash in light …   swimming towels hanging on the railings of the cabins telling their own story of a fun day … campers coming with Bibles and journals for evening worship … counselors leading in worship … 60+ campers lifting their voices in praise to God … the Bible teacher for the week leading campers to Walk in God’s Story with their whole life — their whole life.

If you follow the news, you’ll know that Summer Camp at Laurelville is an antidote to broader culture trends.  Recently the Pew Research Center released their recent findings with the title Christians Decline Sharply as Share of Population; Unaffiliated and Other Faiths Continue to Grow.   Even the Mennonite World Review opinioned on the topic.


When I look at the Pew research, the declining denominational trends, and the decline in the Mennonite Church USA, it could be easy to respond with angst.


But then, I walk up to Summer Camp or I walk around as our hosted groups on a Christian Retreat in Pennsylvania and hear the songs of praise and the faith formation happening … I’m thankful.  At Laurelville, we are sowing the seeds of the movement of God.


So yes, it happened again today – Someone reminded me of what God does here at Laurelville.


Thank you for being a part of it.


Michael Yoder is the Executive Director of Laurelville