SUMATANGA ACTION TEAM COMMUNIQUE September 4, 2020
PASSING THE BATON: The time has come to decommission the Sumatanga Action Team. It has been our privilege to work with you to refocus and reinvigorate our beloved Sumatanga Camp & Conference Center. Many of our Action Team members will be transitioning to the Board of Trustees. Others will continue to serve through committees.
Our collective thanks to the members of the Action Team for their dedication and contributions of time over these past 16 months. It was a great team that accomplished so much because each member openly shared their talents and skill sets. The team consisted of Rev Dr Andy Wolfe as Convener, Neeysa Biddle, Sandy Brown, Rev Dr Bill Brunson, Mike Byrne, Tiphanie Gatgens, Terry McElheny, Harlan Prater, Allan Robertson, Rev Mark Johnston and Daphne Orr.
Now, it is our pleasure to introduce the Board of Trustees who are slated to be approved at the Annual Conference: Neeysa Biddle, Chair; Allan Robertson, Past Chair; Rev Dr. Andy Wolfe, Vice Chair; Sandy Brown, Secretary; Rev Mike Densmore, Treasurer; Brian Moore, Eleanor Christiansen, Ed Lambert, Curt Miller, Rev Terry Bentley, District Superintendents’ designee; Terry McElheny, Bishop’s designee; and Harlan Prater, current Conference Trustee Chair.
FINANCIAL UPDATES: As we have shared, we rely on Camp and Retreat registration revenue, as well as donations, to keep Sumatanga open for ministry. The summer of 2020 held great promise, and, as a team, we looked forward to moving to a better financial position by year’s end. COVID altered those plans significantly, and we were suddenly left to implement contingency plans and to pray for God’s providential blessing, guidance and grace.
Part of the plan already in place for 2020 was to harvest timber, and that contract has now been issued. Our annual lease with a local tomato farmer was again renewed, and during those conversations, he requested, in writing, to purchase the 61.09 acres that had been previously leased. Talk about providential blessing!
Before the vote of the Trustees and as the necessary due diligence was performed, members of the Action Team sought feedback on the sale from several of the Sumatanga faithful. The feedback has been positive overall and none more meaningful than from the one who has seen God’s providential blessing of Sumatanga over and over again. “Sumatanga is home for me and many of you. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of this holy ground so to me, this makes sense. I'm supporting the sale of these acres which will help sustain the programs and camps that are so special to us.” - Nina Reeves Now, the Trustees have entered into a formal purchase agreement approved by the Sumatanga Trustees and await pending Annual Conference approval as defined by the Book of Discipline.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SEARCH We have been blessed to have Daphne Orr as our Interim Executive Director not only during this period of transition for Sumatanga but also the added responsibility of navigating through this unprecedented pandemic. Now, the Board of Trustees is soliciting applications for a permanent Executive Director. The Search Committee is reviewing the multiple responses and will make recommendations to the Trustees who will conduct formal interviews currently scheduled for mid-September. We ask for your continued prayers for the ministry of Sumatanga, the financial resources needed, and now, the person who will work with the Trustees and the Sumatanga community to build upon Sumatanga’s foundation. In addition to the Executive Director, the positions for Summer Programming Director as well as Food Services Manager are also posted.
We give thanks to God for his many, many blessings and, like all of you, we look forward to 2021! In the meantime, we continue to pray for our friends, family, essential workers and all of the medical heroes.
Sumatanga Camp & Conference Center
It is the Mission of Sumatanga to provide sacred space and an environment rich with opportunity for encounters with God through nature and nurture.
Our Vision is to be the home for Christ-centered hospitality.
We Value the teachings of Jesus Christ and use these teachings as the very foundation of our existence. We seek to serve as he served, to love unconditionally as he loved, and to treat all those we encounter with compassion and justice.
We Value our partnership in ministry with the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and seek to be jointly committed and accountable in ministry to them and to those God calls to us.
We Value Christ-centered hospitality and will strive to make every guest feel at home.
We Value community and invite churches, organizations, agencies and individuals to join us and each other in Christian fellowship.
We Value wholesome recreation as a means of building both strength and character.
We Value life-long learning and the call to deepening spiritual development and strive to be a resource for those searching, growing and leading.
We Value sound stewardship. In honor of those who join us in ministry with financial gifts, we pledge to wisely deploy all proceeds to build a sustainable future for continuation of this ministry.