Run the Race to Restore Momentum
This fall, twenty-four runners will embark on a journey of endurance in order to raise money for Living Water Ministries and to help restore momentum lost due to the cancellation of our 2020 summer season as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. Over the course of 36 hours our team of runners will cover 200 miles, traveling from Muskegon, MI to Traverse City, MI through various lakeshore communities. While we will most certainly complete the demanding physical goals of this race, we need your help to complete the financial goals of this effort.
Living Water Ministries (LWM) is an organization committed to faith formation, service, leadership, and community for all of God’s children. LWM is an expression of ELCA and Episcopal churches in Michigan that reaches beyond denominational and geographical lines to share the gospel far and wide. A large portion of the work LWM does is through summer camp experiences that occur at our facility called Stony Lake in New Era, MI.
As a result of this focus on outreach to all of God’s children, Living Water Ministries serves children in foster care, families experiencing homelessness, adults with developmental disabilities, and a great number of campers experiencing socioeconomic challenges. LWM also provides faith-based leadership programs that train leaders with a raised awareness of the ills of racism and increases their cross-cultural competency through immersive experiences.
Living Water Ministries is an innovative organization focused on making positive change in the world as an expression of faith. Although we are unable to gather in person this summer, we remain committed to our mission and are connecting with our campers, churches and families in fun and engaging ways. We look forward to our 2021 summer season, excited for the time when we can again bring together all of God’s children to experience community on the shores of Stony Lake. It is our hope that you will consider sponsoring one of our runners to restore momentum lost in order for 2021 to be the strongest and most impactful season we’ve ever had. Each runner has committed to raising $2,000.00 toward this effort in support of the impact of our mission and vision in people’s lives and the world through transformative experiences of faith.
While the bulk of our campers come for more traditional programs, our Bridge Builders program (leadership development and anti-racism training) and our partner program called MYLA (Multicultural Youth Leadership Academy) are blazing new trails in outdoor ministry in ways that are extremely innovative. In particular, Bridge Builders has received a great deal of recognition from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. In 2015 we received a sizable grant to expand the program nationally. In 2016 we received the Innovative Program Award for Bridge Builders from the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Network. In 2017 we were invited to Washington D.C. to present to the national church about Bridge Builders as part of their national celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Living Water Ministries is an organization that has historically served youth from Michigan, but we’ve been increasing in our impact on a national level. Through our Bridge Builders program (faith formation, leadership development, and anti-racism training), our partner program called MYLA (Multicultural Youth Leadership Academy), and our hotel-based events we have drawn youth to our programs from 16 states! The LWM scholarship fund helps us remove obstacles for many of these youth by assisting with travel expenses and registration fees.
Camp has always been a place that has cultivated leaders for the church and the world. Campers sometimes return as summer staff who then sometimes continue on to become leaders like pastors, youth workers, teachers, social workers, paramedics, nurses, and beyond. The programs we offer focus on drawing out the gifts of our participants so they might discover their own leadership potential.
Over the years this leadership continuum has primarily been available to youth who are white. As we racially diversify our camper base we are creating access to this continuum for youth of color and we are seeing the results. The scholarship fund helps us create that access for campers that have historically been excluded from participation in this continuum and serves as an engine for diverse leadership cultivation.
The bold outreach approach of Living Water Ministries is yielding some real results when it comes to our population of campers and our staff. Through the scholarship approach we’ve adopted, and through intentional partnerships with outside organizations we have formed, we are curating diverse communities of campers. At Living Water Ministries we believe these diverse communities better reflect the reign of God.
It has always been true that camp kills stereotypes. At the end of each camp week there is a harmony among campers. A shared love for one another that is a reflection of Christ’s love for us. There are no more jocks or nerds. There are only siblings in Christ. Campers learn that they are valued for who they are and relax into being their true selves.
The immersive experience of camp also kills stereotypes we have about people who look or behave different than ourselves. After living with a person for a week, campers are able to destroy stereotypes they may have had and truly see each of their fellow campers as children of God. This has always been a powerful truth of the camp experience but has a very profound layer when it comes to dismantling preconceived notions and stereotypes across racial and socioeconomic lines.
Living Water Ministries is dedicated to sharing the gospel with all of God’s children. We’re passionate about it, and we’re passionate about removing obstacles for children to attend our programs. By the end of our 2020 summer season we project to have awarded over $250,000.00 in scholarships since 2015! We need your help to replenish our fund that now awards approximately $50,000.00 in scholarships annually.