Moravian Church in North America

In Essentials, Unity; In Nonessentials, Liberty; In All Things, Love.

Moravian Church in North America
North: Bethlehem, Pa.
South: Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Van-Es celebrates 75 years of Canadian camping


In 1941, Moravians gathered on a wilderness site east of Edmonton for their very first time. That site would soon be named Van-Es, taking its letters from the Unitas Fratrum’s Latin motto “Vicit Agnus Noster Eum Sequamur” – a name that reminds all who gather together on the land that Our Lamb Has Conquered!

Fast forward to the 2016 summer camping season, marking the 75th year that Moravians have gathered together on South Cooking Lake to enjoy all of the wonderful things that Van-Es has to offer: wonderful nature preserves, amazing food, joyful counselors and grace filled directors who do their very best to make sure that every camper has the chance to experience God’s love while there.

This summer, Van-Es is trying something new: offering camps for students who have completed grades 1-3 and 4-6 (in previous years, the camps were for grades 1-2, 3-4 and 5-6). For these younger campers, this year’s theme will be “Live It Out,” with each week’s program focusing on how we can live out our faith in our every day lives and allowing the intentional community that we build at camp to be lived out at home, school and everywhere we go.

Since it is our 75th anniversary, the Jr. High and Sr. High camps will have a special theme, based upon The Hunger Games, where we will learn about 24 Christian men and women who led exemplary lives. Through different games and challenges, campers will learn the lives of these people of faith and hopefully have a great time as well.

In addition to our regular camps, we will also be having a Peace Camp, which will be held in conjunction with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, where campers will have the opportunity to learn of and foster peace through games, projects and education.

One of the neat things that Van-Es has done in the past is to have an Antioch student or two come from the USA and be a counselor to each camp, working with the youngest ages to the oldest. This year, our Antioch student (who was set to come from Germany) was unable to make the trip work, but we hope and pray that others will consider the trip in years to come. Anyone who is over the age of 18 is eligible and they can contact Jill Kolodziej with the Board of World Mission ( for more information.

Finally, on behalf of all the campers and counselors, staff and board members, and all the people of the Canadian District, I would like to thank Alice Sears for her exemplary leadership of the Van Es board over the past eight years. All of her hard work has helped do amazing things to make Van-Es a wonderful place for all people to visit and we are blessed for all the work and time (and tree’s planted) you have put in to make our camp such a great place to experience all the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. (Ed. note: Lynne Hennig of Calgary was elected as the Van-Es Board Chair at the Canadian District Synod May 14.)

The Rev. Matt Gillard is pastor of Heimtal Moravian Church.

2016 Camping Season at Van-Es

Grades 1/2/3 Camp
June 29 – July 2
Led by Steve Gohdes

Grades 4/5/6 Camp
July 3 – July 9
Led by Marilyn Gurnsey and James Lavoy

Junior High Camp
July 10 – July 16
Led by Brandon Salyzyn and Eileen and Ian Edwards

Senior High Camp
July 17 – July 23
Led by Matt Gillard

Peace Camp (Grades 4/5/6)
July 17 – July 23
Led by James Lavoy



From the June 2016 Moravian Magazine

Moravian Daily Texts


Friday, July 20 — Psalm 88:1–5
Deuteronomy 29:22–31:8; Luke 10:17–24

I will bring them through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. Zechariah 13:9 (NKJV)

Paul wrote: We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3–4

God, sometimes life feels too difficult to bear and we cannot feel you with us. Help us to be more aware of your presence even in the most challenging situations, and strengthen us to face the day. Amen.

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