I’ve just seen information from the Bible Camp our confirmation students have attended for the last 27 years apologizing for having to limit enrollment this summer because the director was not able to hire enough counselors. The reality is the camps don’t pay enough to attract as many counselors as they need.
Many of those counselors attend ELCA colleges, so their educations are costing them significantly more than those who attend state schools. In previous years, some counselors might have been seminary students; about whom there is typically even greater concern within the ELCA because at least four more years of education debt is piled onto the loans secured to earn an undergraduate degree.
One reason for this is that the national church’s and synodical support for camps, colleges, and seminaries has decreased considerably, even as costs have risen. This has happened even though the experiences young church members have at camp either as campers or staff are among the most transformative in their lives. One might also expect that there would be greater appreciation for what it means to be the Body of Christ and members of the ELCA if someone attended camp, or a church college, or an ELCA seminary.
Why are we as a church funding some of the other “ministries” that we are, when some of our “core” ministries are wanting for funds and people? Others do the work of political advocacy; in fact many of us do as individuals or members of other organizations already. Why do the ELCA and our synods duplicate those efforts rather than provide more adequate funding for the work that only the ELCA does? What other “adiaphoral” offices and staff are we funding, while our most important ministries go wanting?
Why in many ways do we “follow the crowd” rather than help each other grow in Christ through camps, colleges, and seminaries?