In 2012, Ridge Haven, the PCA’s conference and camp center in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, hit record numbers: Almost 1,700 campers, and close to 2,100 adults and college students attended church retreats, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) retreats, and Mission to the World (MTW) conferences, among others.
“We have been busy … and we love it,” said Ridge Haven executive director Wallace Anderson. “We have been blessed to watch the Lord grow our ministry, but the growth that really excites us is seeing people of all ages leaving Ridge Haven knowing Jesus Christ better than before they came. … It seems like everything has been growing around here at Ridge Haven except for one thing—our dining hall!”
Built in 1981, the dining hall, which was intended to hold only 140 comfortably, has been cramming in close to 250 campers on a regular basis.
“It was dingy, literally falling apart,” observed Anderson.
But last year Anderson received word that Women in the Church (WIC) intended to designate its 2013 Love Gift toward the dining hall’s renovation. Since 1973, WIC has been giving an annual gift on a rotating basis to each of the PCA’s 10 committees and agencies, contributing as much as $200,000 in 2006 to MTW’s Street Child ministry.
“Back in the earliest days [of the PCA] when we were a fledgling denomination … the women not only wanted to support [the denomination] prayerfully, but also with its funds,” explained WIC leader Jane Patete. “[The WIC Love Gift] gives women, and local churches, the opportunity to support our denomination.”
When Ridge Haven’s turn came, WIC considered three proposals for the conference center: scholarships for campers from low-income families, a grant for new lodging, and a grant to renovate the dining hall. As the committee considered all three, many were drawn to the scholarships, but the vote was unanimous that the dining hall must come first.
“The one place on campus that nearly all campers and guests visit was outdated, the least attractive, and had the least functional facilities,” Patete said. “It was a foundational decision. If we get this in place, all of the factors will exponentially grow.”
With the funds from the gift, Ridge Haven plans to remodel and expand the seating and dining areas to host 275 guests.
“Our hope now is that with the 2013 WIC Love Gift, we will once again be able not only to worship together as one body but to be able to eat together as well,” said Anderson. “There is nothing like a family meal at camp.”
Through 2013, WIC will encourage women to promote the Love Gift at presbytery meetings and local church gatherings.
Go to vimeo.com/56694305 to learn more about Ridge Haven and the Love Gift.