From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Newsline - Church of the Brethren news update

Date Fri, 14 Jun 2002 10:53:09 EDT

Date: June 14, 2002
Contact: Walt Wiltschek
V: 847/742-5100 F: 847/742-6103

 1) Fire destroys main lodge of Camp Mon-Dak.
 2) Wildfires again threaten Camp Colorado, force evacuation.
 3) Michigan ordination process takes another turn.

 4) Lerry Fogle is called as Annual Conference executive director.


 1) Camp Mon-Dak, one of two camps in the Church of the Brethren's
Northern Plains District, lost its main lodge to a fire on June 7.

A neighbor of the small camp, located near the Canadian border in
Dunseith, N.D., first reported the fire after seeing smoke
billowing across the road. By the time firefighters arrived it was
too late to save the lodge, built in 1953.

"There was nothing left of it," said camp board chair Rod Wurgler.
"It's really devastating."

The fire inspector determined it was not an electrical fire, but
arson has not been ruled out as a possible cause, according to
Wurgler. A bathhouse and six cabins were undamaged.

The fire comes just before the camp's short summer season. The
junior and youth camps scheduled for Mon-Dak in July will be
cancelled. About 20 campers would have attended each week. A family
camp scheduled for July 12-14 will be held at another nearby camp.

At that family camp, Brethren from the area will discuss Mon-Dak's
future. Insurance money would cover the cost of rebuilding, but
finances had already been a struggle before the fire. With numbers
dwindling--only three small Church of the Brethren congregations
exist in North Dakota and one in Montana--and the camp only in use
a few weeks each year, Wurgler said it may not reopen. 

"It's sad," said Wurgler, who grew up attending the camp. "There's
a lot of memories there."

 2) Wildfires are again threatening Camp Colorado, forcing the
evacuation of a junior high camp being held there this past week.

The camp, located near Sedalia, Colo., in Western Plains District,
dodged one wildfire threat in late May, and just last week senior
high campers helped with replanting in a fire recovery effort. This
time, however, the fire is larger and the threat greater.

The junior high camp began as scheduled this past Saturday, June 8,
with 22 campers plus counselors and other staff. By Sunday, though,
the new, human-caused Hayman fire had grown and was spreading.

"It looked like it was sunset all day Sunday," said Tracy Stoddart,
a Brethren Volunteer Service worker from Colorado who was serving
as a counselor for the week. "It was raining ash. We kept (the
campers) inside most of the day Sunday."

Shortly after an evening gathering, the evacuation order came. They
had 30 minutes to gather some things and leave the area. Campers
were told to bring one change of clothes in their backpacks, along
with their sleeping bag and pillow. They traveled in camp and
personal vehicles to Prince of Peace Church of the Brethren in
Littleton, Colo., about 25 miles away. It was the first known
evacuation in the camp's 51-year history.

"The campers were just amazing," Stoddart said. "They weren't
panicking about leaving their stuff at all. We had devotions that
night, and when we asked them to share one thing they were fearful
of, almost all of them said they were afraid the camp would be
gone. They were incredibly mature."

The Denver Zoo donated free tickets for the camp on Monday, and the
decision was made to end camp Monday night. Many of the campers
were from Kansas, so vehicles had to make the long trek to bring
them home.

"For something that dramatic, I felt that overall things went very
well," said Doug Wine, who was directing the junior high week for
a 14th straight year. He praised the understanding of the campers
and their parents, and said that everyone had made it safely home
by Tuesday evening.

As of Thursday the camp was not in imminent danger, according to
reports from camp spokesman Lynn Clannin. A wind shift and a split
in the massive fire around the previously burned area had helped to
keep the flames away. The camp remains under mandatory evacuation,
however, and the pre-junior camp scheduled for the week of June 16
has also been cancelled. Regular updates are being posted at

 3) After a week of twists and turns, the ordination service for
Matthew Smucker was allowed to proceed as scheduled this past
Sunday, June 9, in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Smucker, who is openly gay, was initially approved for ordination
by the Michigan District board in late April. After more than a
month of controversy, the district board reconvened on June 1 to
listen to concerns and announced a decision to suspend Smucker's
ordination process until guidance could be gained from Annual
Conference and district conference.

The June 1 vote was just 6-5, however, with one abstention, and
research into procedure showed that a two-thirds majority was
required since the item was not on the original agenda. Late last
week, the board conferred again by conference call on this point
and other parliamentary procedures the motion may have violated.
The board agreed to dismiss the motion "as if (it) did not occur,"
according to a summary by district executive Marie Willoughby.

Smucker's ordination service was held at his home church, Skyridge
Church of the Brethren, during the Sunday morning worship. About
150 people attended the event. 

"It was a wonderful day, very joyous and celebratory," Smucker
said. "It's one we were waiting on for a long time." He said it
moves him and the church into "the next portion of the journey."

Skyridge has placed a timeline and background of Smucker's journey
through the ordination process on its website, at It notes that the congregation
"fully affirms the ordination of Matthew J. Smucker to Christian
ministry" after prayer and discernment.

Controversy and dissension continue, however, and lying ahead is a
query coming before Annual Conference on the ordination and
licensing of homosexual persons. Delegates are slated to consider
that question when they gather in Louisville late this month.
Michigan District also plans to discuss the issue at its district
conference in August.

 4) The Annual Conference Council has announced that Lerry W. Fogle
will become the next executive director of Annual Conference. 

Fogle has been associate pastor of the 1,100-member Frederick (Md.)
Church of the Brethren since 1995, coordinating the "caring
ministry" of the congregation. A graduate of Hood College with a
bachelor of arts in management, he also graduated from the Training
in Ministry (TRIM) program and is currently pursuing an MBA in
church business administration.

Prior to his call to the Frederick congregation, Fogle was employed
by the GEICO Corporation as application program manager. There he
oversaw programs that required administrative, organizational, and
negotiation skills, experience which the Council felt was good
training for the executive director position.

Fogle will begin his service at the denominational level on Oct.
15, according to Earl K. Ziegler, chair of the Annual Conference
Council, and will officially assume the office when the present
director, Duane Steiner, retires on Dec. 1.

Newsline is produced by Walt Wiltschek, manager of news services
for the Church of the Brethren General Board, on the first, third
and fifth Friday of each month, with other editions as needed.
Newsline stories may be reprinted provided that Newsline is cited
as the source. Connie Burkholder contributed to this report.

Newsline is a free service sent only to those requesting a
subscription. To receive it by e-mail or fax, or to unsubscribe,
write or call 800-323-8039, ext. 263. Newsline is
available at and is archived with an index at Also see Photo Journal at for photo coverage of events.

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home