Today is Halloween, a holiday when many people dress up in fun and silly costumes, spending time pretending to be something they are not and having a lot of fun. That is all well and good, but it has a tendency to forget the origins of the holiday. The holiday has its origins in the Celtic tradition of Samhain, a day and night in which the evil spirits were to be scared off. This Celtic tradition later merged with the Christian observance of All Saint’s Day on November 1st. The merger morphed into All Hallows Eve and eventually Halloween. So, long story short, from a Christian perspective, Halloween marks an opportunity to celebrate, honor, and recognize the saints who have come before us in our own lives. It is by coincidence that this week at Pilgrim Center we have a group of UCCI friends diving deep into our historical documents. We have set up our former office space as a historical research center and these friends are beginning the task of sorting through three or four dozen plastic totes full of UCCI historical documents.
The ultimate end goal of this project is to create a concise history of Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach, but the first task is to simply figure out what in the world we have in all of these totes and what is truly of interest versus what is simply twenty copies of the same promotional brochure from thirty years ago. As we are wading through history dating back to the beginning of the 1900’s I can easily get distracted by the reality that many people have walked in our shoes in the past. Many people, since the beginnings of the 20th century, have worked hard to carry out their understanding of outdoor ministry on the grounds of Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach. The understanding of what outdoor ministry looks like has certainly changed since 1910, but a sincere effort to faithfully carry out the work of our God remains the same. We may no longer hold revivals under a tent, or require our campers to come to lunch in poodle skirts and dress shirts, but we do work hard at sharing the teachings of God’s love with every group that we host.
On Tuesday evening at Pilgrim Center we hosted a simple dinner church event and as a way of honoring our camps’ saints who have come before us, we sang two hymns that were written for Vespers on Green Lake during the first half of the 20thcentury. Some of the phrasing in the hymns might be a little different than what we would be inclined to use today, but the sentiments of life at Pilgrim Center and Moon Beach remain the same today as it was in the 1930’s. I have to believe our Saints would approve of our work today.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp