Chesapeake Conference churches added 545 new members in 2022 through baptism or profession of faith.
How a Church Without Children Grew a Thriving Children’s Ministry
Story by Baybe Cornish
Campers who attended the Catoctin View (Thurmont, Md.) church’s four-week summer camp gave a resounding response when asked what their favorite memories were: “all of them!”
Over 45 campers, ages 4-14, attended the four-week summer camp hosted by the church which featured indoor and outdoor games, a Slip-N-Slide, bounce house, worship parties, tutoring in English and math, pony rides, pools, and field trips to places such as Hershey Park and Cunningham Falls State Park.
For 11-year-old Mackenzie Blickenstaff, the camp was about more than just fun and games. “I had a lot of fun, and I also really feel like I learned more about being a Christian and got a lot closer to Jesus.”
Ultimately, that was the main goal for the church: to bring children and youth to Christ through a summer of fun, joy, and newfound meaning.
When Catoctin View children’s ministry director, Tina Gagliardi, and Bible worker, Alvin Payne, began to plan for the summer camp, they had all the resources they needed except the most crucial one: children. To address the problem, the church borrowed a bus from Highland View Academy, and picked up campers every morning from the surrounding region.
“This camp was definitely an expansion of God’s territory at the Catoctin View SDA Church,” says Bible worker, Alvin Payne. “I’m amazed at how God used a church with no children and blessed us with 45 registered campers, 38 of which are unchurched.”
This year’s campers can’t wait to come back next year. “I really liked the water stuff, like the pool and the lake and the slip and slide,” said Lilian Grace Jackson, age 11.
10-year-old Alyssa Capozzi agreed, adding that the camp’s welcoming atmosphere made her feel comfortable when she first arrived. “I made a lot of friends. As soon as I got here, everyone started talking to me.”
As a result of the summer camp’s success, the leadership team at Catoctin View has decided to organize year-round activities for the growing group of kids, including a bi-monthly children’s church, which will be reminiscent of this past summer’s activities.
Reflecting on the summer, John Bennett, head elder at Catoctin View church, says it was God’s hand that led to the camp’s incredible success. “I walked in the midst of a miracle,” he says.
For a church without children, a burgeoning children’s ministry is a miracle indeed.