BY THE REV. DAVID MERRITT |
Laurel Ridge will celebrate an important anniversary this year, Sixty Years Plus One, as their announcement on social media suggests. However, I would really like to celebrate the courage and foresight it took to create this “A Mountain Place Set Apart.” In fact, my birthday in October reminds me that Laurel Ridge and I are almost the same age. Our life stories parallel each other and for that, I count Laurel Ridge as my brother/sister/parent and friend.
When Laurel Ridge came into existence, it was a culmination of many forces. Youth and children led the way, strong leaders and compassionate pastors heard the call. The land, although special to us as Moravians, was special to another family and available. The time was right given the upsurge of children born after WWII. And of course, the Spirit of the time was infectious. Who would not want a special place where God’s Spirit could move among our people and create new creatures for Christ.
Our late Bishop Higgins once reminded me on one of his nature hikes with Junior Campers that the wonder of this beautiful place is found in the simplicity of its setting…no pools, no giant venues, no outlandish creature comforts. Our Laurel Ridge would allow God to speak through the mint, the swaying trees, the rainstorms, the lake, the nighttime starry canopy, and the lunar moths. At best our staff and counselors would be caretakers of the promise made over sixty years ago. And campers from around the world would pause each season to say, “thank you, God! Thank you for allowing me to experience this special mountain place.”
So, for almost seventy decades, we have been able to point to a time when we as Moravians decided to invest in the most beautiful and precious assets known to our world: children. Our children, youth, and young adults would have a permanent home to call their own in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains. Please consider coming home to the mountains this July and celebrate 60 + 1 Anniversary. But always remember that the dream that we dared to dream over sixty years ago is more than a place, it is a gift that God has entrusted to us as members of this pilgrim church.
This Is My Father’s World |Malbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901, alt.
This is my Father’s world; and to my listening ears,
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world; I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees,
of skies and seas, his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Mother’s world; the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the flowers bright, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Mother’s world; she shines in all that’s fair;
in rustling grass I hear her pass; she speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Maker’s world; oh, let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Maker’s world; why should my heart be sad?
The heavens ring; let nature sing. God reigns; let earth be glad.
from Hymns of Truth and Light, published by First Congregational Church, UCC, in Houston, Texas
About the Author
The Rev. David Merritt is a retired Pastor, former Dean, Outreach Director, and Chaplain, but he’s “papa” according to his grandkids. David loves God, Laurel Ridge, and his family. He has enough sense to get out of the rain but prefers raindrops anyway.