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Pro-homosexuality Conference Financial Woes May Be Motivation For Attempts To Take Over Christian Campground

Date: Sun, 5 Dec 1999 19:43:24 EST
Subject: The Conference and the Camp Ground

This is a first attempt to answer the question that some have asked:
    Just what will the Northern Illinois Conference do now that the Camp Ground has adjudicated protection of the First Amendment?
    The answer at first blush, only as much as lay people will allow them to do.

Therefore, I suggest a call-tree, prayer-chain approach to contact all of our friends in The United Methodist Church and elsewhere, and ask them this question: "Is the Northern Illinois Conference hierarchy desperate for money?"

There are knowledgeable people in the Conference who have been looking at the recent Conference budget, and they see little hope of maintaining current spending levels next year without the sale of major assets. The events of our conciliation session of last Wednesday with Bishop Sprague compel the question: "Does the Conference need to have the Camp Ground, to wrest it away from our lay ministry, in order to sell it for cash flow?"

It is hardly news that we feel that we have been the victim of an aggressive smear-campaign in order to destroy our viability in order to force us to sell our land, by attacking our reputation and our mission. You can believe that should we be forced to sell, the Conference hierarchy will go to court and claim the proceeds of that sale.

Can the Conference hierarchy win such a claim? Probably not, -- but that should not stop them from any attempt. They have no record that they paid anything (from 1860 on) towards the purchase, care, or operations of the Chicago District Camp Ground Association. They have no evidence, they have no supporting documents, and they have no living testimony that they have any ownership interest in the land, or in the Association. However, that does not mean that they will not try an offensive action in court, -- simply to drive up our legal costs, hoping to force us to fold our defense.

We need to speak the Truth--the truth about why we are all at the Camp Ground, why we come there each year to work, to worship, and to enjoy each other's company and fellowship. The Truth is, that we do not always see eye-to-eye, but no one ever does, and still there are friends at the Camp Ground who are closer to each other than their own families. And, many of these friendships have been lifelong friendships.

We need to speak the Truth--the truth about our relationship with the Conference. We have had a lifelong friendship with the Conference. And, we have maintained a cordial relationship throughout this whole ordeal, even when we are maligned.

The Conference is the local outpost of a great and glorious Church: The United Methodist Church. That Church is the Body of Christ. We all love this Church. We are saddened by the current maladministration of this Conference. However, that does not mean we love this Church less.

We now know that this Bishop is not above retaliation against those who cross him, while at the same time accusing us of doing the same.

Does a moment come, when we bid this Church farewell? When is that time? I cannot speak for anyone else, but I believe that time comes when there is no longer forgiveness. Every Sunday we ask the Father to forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. No one asks us for forgiveness, because forgiveness is ours to give. We each simply forgive, -- and we always have.

Christ teaches, unless we forgive trespasses, He cannot forgive us ours. And, so we forgive -- seventy times seven we have forgive -- and, we forgive again. And, even as we reach deeper and deeper into our pockets, -- we will forgive the Conference, again.

I am not a defeatist. I believe, however, that when Christ closes one door, He opens another. The door to the Conference is closing, because they seem no longer willing to forgive us -- anymore!

Now, they have this question to answer: How can Christ forgive them, if they cannot forgive us? There is only a sad, sad future for this great Church, -- unless they can be forgiving as we been towards them. When they said no to flood assistance, when they said no to helping on property insurance, when they said no to programs and retreats, when they said no to a covenant relationship. We came home, moved on, and forgave their failure to be there when we needed them.

There are those among us who know, that they are hardening their hearts against us as we speak. We will forgive them again. But, has the door closed? We need to pray and ask the Lord's guidance and direction in this hour.

Yours in Christ!

Bob Matson

Robert Matson is husband of Des Plaines Campgroung trustees vice president Martha Matson

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