By Annika Russo
“Many gifts – one Spirit. So many different ways to serve the Lord,” ran the text of a Vacation Bible School song that Jennifer Bell, organist and director of music at St. Patrick’s, Dublin, wrote many years ago. In June, adult and youth missioners came to Procter Camp and Conference Center to explore their gifts, serve the Lord, and learn new skills.
While there, the group worked at Procter Farm, rehabbing the old greenhouse into a new outdoor classroom for creation care: Sawyer Greenhouse. John Sawyer, an inductee into the Ohio Agricultural Hall of Fame and philanthropist, with the Diocese of Southern Ohio being a recipient of his generosity.
Members of the St. Patrick’s youth group spent four days stripping the old structure down to its skeleton. The space has been re-envisioned with art installations in the shade covers and custom-made raised beds for children’s education. Water- and wind-damage repairs and other functional changes will now make this space enticing for campers at the center.
In late July, youth from St. Patrick’s were joined at Procter by youth from St. John’s, Worthington, where they explored what it means to “pray without ceasing,” as Paul instructs in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17, with building and design projects, fellowship, and fun. While the group didn’t anticipate the Trinity to be the organizing principle of their work, they soon discovered the Spirit moving them to focus their work on three areas of the Center through the members of the Trinity: Creator in the Sawyer Greenhouse, Redeemer at the central fire pit, and Sustainer in the prayer gardens and the labyrinth.
As the group investigated prayer, they carved words and symbols for each member of the Trinity into the benches around the campus, made and set a new cross for the central fire pit, and used fellowship time to deepen existing friendships and make new ones by noticing each other’s gifts through the work together.
Youth from the two parishes also installed new prayer walks and updated old favorites during their time at Procter. The two conference center garden nooks were transformed into prayer gardens inspired by the fruits of the Spirit. Each participant chose one fruit for their focus: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). They designed, poured, and decorated stepping-stones to center our steps on the gifts given to each of us, made wind chimes and sun catchers to help us notice the movement of the Spirit in our lives, and assembled illusion sculptures to highlight the mystery of Trinity as visitors enjoy the zinnias carpeting the gardens. The labyrinth got some much-needed attention, too, in the addition of new flowers and weeding in the existing beds. Visitors are invited to walk the ancient seven-course labyrinth outside the Christ Chapel at Procter, pick up a laminated card in the conference center lobby, center themselves in the shade of the Chapel, and start their journeys with one of the prompts on the card.
“Many gifts – one Spirit. So many different ways to serve the Lord” – thanks be to God for the many ways these youth and adults served God this summer at the Procter Center!
Annika Russo is a leader for the youth group at St. Patrick’s Dublin