It's not your simple Bible camp anymore.
The Metochos Lutheran Bible Camp is now a complex that is nearly ready for a host of community activities, including those organized by churches.
The camp, spearheaded by Trinity Lutheran Church, has many features including a scenic scan of the Rafferty Reservoir plus a rolling prairie landscape among other things.
The main building, constructed of cedar logs and open beams, offers 10,000 square feet of activity and living quarters plus a full commercial kitchen, conference room and office space. The living quarters will feature lower-level family units as well as individual spaces for summer and day camps. The building's exterior boasts of a large deck and patio. Nearby dormitories that have been in place for about 15 years, offer accommodations for another 40 people.
Metochos has been in the construction and fund-raising phase for over two years now, so when building committee chairman Vern Buck held the ribbon last Sunday afternoon, while Bishop Cindy Halmarson cut the ribbon, it was with a sigh of quiet satisfaction that the job was nearing completion. As Buck pointed out, the construction is not complete yet, but the facilities are now being booked on weekends and the next three weekends are already spoken for.
"We have 5,000 square feet on the main level and another 5,000 in the lower level," said Buck who served as emcee for a program that included a service, conducted by Bishop Halmarson and included hymns of praise and prayers of thanks.
"The construction work goes on during the week and then the buildings are booked on the weekends," said Buck, who added that getting materials onto the site has proved challenging at times thanks to their unavailability at times and other times thanks to flooded roads due to an overabundance of water this past spring.
The main camp facility is heated and cooled through a state-of-the-art geothermal unit that is working very efficiently, he said.
Security will be in place at the site now after the camp was recently attacked by vandals who inflicted some minor damage to the main building as well as damaging some camp canoes and kayaks.
Bishop Halmarson said that when she entered the building, "I was in awe. There is an open atmosphere here. We meet God in different ways and this is certainly a holy place where we can encounter Him."
She then dedicated the building to the glory of God as the bishop in charge of the Saskatchewan Synod.
Estevan Mayor Gary St. Onge offered words of congratulations to the building committee who persevered and made the camp complex a reality. He said it was good to know that the camp programs will remain in place to provide guidance for young people, tomorrow's leaders.
Buck also read a message from Souris-Moose Mountain MP Ed Komarnicki who was unable to attend due to the fact that the House of Commons began their new session on Monday morning.
Buck thanked the contractor, John Braun of Apogee Contracting of Portage, and their local project representative Andrew Klassen. He also thanked Turnbull Construction of Estevan who had fashioned a new stretch of grid road to the site following this summer's flood that wrecked the original access road.
He pointed out that while this is a new camp building, the Lutheran Bible Camp is 70 years old and he singled out Elvey Martinson, now 93-years-old, who helped oversee the first official Bible camp in 1941. Martinson, his wife explained, hauled the water to the camp and had even worked for camps prior to that first official one.
Buck also remembered congregation member Norman Vall, now deceased, who was a huge proponent of the project, seeing its potential long before any construction work could begin.
Buck noted the main building is energy efficient in other ways too, besides the geothermal air controls, there is LED lighting that requires less than 12 volts of power to activate plus insulated concrete forms and a low maintenance exterior.
Pastor Cicely McDougall said that Buck had started talking about the camp over 10 years ago and she told him on Sunday that "God called you and I imagine you've had a few words with Him along the way too," she said, amidst a round of laughter by the more than 100 people who attended the opening ceremonies and service that included an evening supper.
"Now we have a gift of thanks for you, but it's not ready, but I know you understand all that," she said, to another round of laughter.
Camp counsellors, headed by camp director Leslie Chapman, with Rachelle Lee and Liam Hardy, led a camp styled sing-a-long and pianist Danielle Evenson provided accompaniment for the hymns. Pastor Colette Baker also provided assistance with the service and programs as they continued through to the evening finale.