Although we have our Annual Picnic/Worship Service annually at Harmony Park, we have occasionally held it at Merom in honor of St. John's UCC tradition from years gone by. It is a wonderful feeling to enjoy a church service there, along with an outdoor meal, followed by volleyball, swimming, and tours of the building & bell tower -- just like back in the old days. Please let the Congregational Life Committee know if you would like to have it there again.
Directions: Take US 41 20 miles north of Vincennes, turn left / west on Hwy 58 , and continue 13 1/2 miles to Merom. Turn right on either S. College St. or Phillips St. (Mapping: 8555 Phillip Street, Merom IN 47861).
Those that have been collected and placed in Memorial Hall so far have really been adding up! Thank you to all who have been contributing to this collection to help acquire attractive - yet functional and more durable - benches from this recycled material. In a very recent phone conversation with Merom’s bookkeeper, the number of benches with backs has been satisfied for the grounds in and around the facility. In the area around the pool, the wood and metal benches have deteriorated. For that area, as well as around the firepit and a few other areas on the grounds, the plan is to utilize backless benches instead. This type of bench will require 100 pounds less plastic and a slightly lower dollar amount: 300 pounds of plastic + $175 = one backless bench. So, please KEEP bringing in your plastic caps and lids from pill, soda, milk, juice, sour cream, cottage cheese, peanut butter, aerosol hair spray or cleaning products, or other comparable containers!
LLALI (Living Long and Loving It) lunches served at noon on most Wednesdays have resumed following the summer hiatus! Are you interested in a hearty $6 meal (including drink, salad bar, and dessert) among friendly folks at Merom’s dining hall? If so, see the menu for dates through December 14 posted on the hallway bulletin board.
An IKC Women’s Retreat at Merom happens September 16 – 18 and was planned by Evansville Tri-State women. The theme “Planting Seeds” will explore women’s callings. Susan Fowler of Evansville – described as an “energetic artist, musician, ecologist, scientist, researcher, and storyteller extraordinaire” – will be the main presenter. Cost is $125 for those attending the entire retreat or $90 for Friday and Saturday only. An agenda for the retreat and other brief information can be found on the hallway bulletin board. Register through the IKC website: www.ikc.ucc.org. Contact Val Ruess at 317-924-1395 (IKC/UCC’s office) for more information or to inquire about limited scholarship funds through the Lovina Wesson Scholarship Fund.) Registration deadline is September 9.
Seniors Unlimited is September 20 – 24 at Merom for any adults that would like to join the “regulars” who love camp! Check-in is Tuesday from 2 – 5 p.m., and check-out will occur at 10 a.m. Saturday. The range of activities includes Bible study, fellowship time, work projects, worship, crafts, a Friday night banquet, watching movies, playing cards, etc. For more information and to register, contact either Susie (Merom’s director) or Linda (camp registrar) at one of these numbers: 800-313-4511 or 812-356-4511.
Marriage Enrichment Weekend from October 7 – 9 is a retreat open to couples from across the Indiana-Kentucky Conference. St. Peter’s UCC in Dubois, IN, is sponsoring this. Participants will be engaged in exploring healthy ways to nurture and enrich the “us” to help fulfill and satisfy the “me” and “you” in couples’ relationships. Rev. Dr. Vennard Walter, a practicing psychotherapist and spiritual director from New Albany, IN, will lead the retreat. Cost is $235 per couple. For more information and to register, contact Rev. John Sterrett (of St. Peter’s UCC) at 812-678-2271.
Alumni Weekend is October 21 – 23 for anyone 18 and older who’s been to summer camp or never went, but now wants to try it! The plan includes Friday dinner and campfire, Saturday morning work projects and fellowship, and on Sunday (for anyone who stays) high ropes. Cost is $60. Let Merom staff know you will be attending by calling the office at 800-313-4511 or 812-356-4511. (Another option is to text the camp cell: (317-445-8754.)
Winner, winner, chicken dinner…and yes we DID have a winner among our group of 11 who traveled to Merom Conference Center for fellowship and lunch consisting of fried chicken and other tasty offerings on Wednesday, May 18th! Donna Klein was the winner of a ticket for a free lunch at a future LLALI (“Living Long and Loving It”) lunch there. Along with Donna, traveling to Merom with Dan Roark driving the church van were the following: Pam and Clara Wirth, George and Ruth Varns, Paul Schuckman, Sharon Marchino (a friend of Donna’s), Carole and David Culp, and Brenda Roark. Accompanying our group in the van was a large trash bag full of plastic caps and lids – the 3rd bag collected at St. John’s UCC. We observed several of the benches – sturdy and attractive – in various spots on the grounds and around the pool made from these recycled caps and lids. (Please note: We will continue to collect these plastic caps and lids until Sunday, July 10th). Before our arrival at Merom Conference Center’s dining hall, our van had detoured through Merom Bluff Park to enjoy the scenic overlook of the Wabash River. During our lunch a bit later, we learned that the annual “Merom Bluff Chatauqua” festival will be held at that site the weekend of June 3-5. Included on its schedule of events are tours at Merom Conference Center scheduled for 2:00 and 4:00 on both Saturday and Sunday. LLALI lunches at Merom – only $6 per person – will resume on Wednesday, August 24th, after what hopefully will have been a very successful summer camping season there.
Remember: if you and/or your child are going to any summer camp at Merom, the deadline is a week prior to May 15th for having your part of the “early bird” payment (with the church paying ½ of that cost for our members) and completed registration forms turned into our church office. Let’s resume our previous history of sending campers from St. John’s UCC to Merom – such worthwhile experiences there!
Keep camps and retreats for adults in mind. For instance, Jana Vieck and I attended the “BIBLE 101” retreat at Merom Conference Center April 8 – 10, and we were so glad that we did! Rev. John Sterrett, leader of this retreat and pastor of St. Peter’s UCC in Dubois, expressed it this way in a description before the event. “The intent is for folks to find some new ways to interact with God and with each other, learn some new things about this book that we revere--but don't read--and find a little peace in our hectic lives.”
Mission accomplished! Vesper services occurred Friday and Saturday night. We had the chance to practice meditative walking on Saturday and Sunday morning (presenting more of a challenge than one might think.) There were two separate 2-hour sessions on Saturday to read, learn about, and discuss the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) while coloring – yes, you read that last part correctly! Exposure to a new way to read the scriptures, called aural divina, was quite intriguing. Our group sang (accompanied by Rev. Sterrett with his guitar), prayed, and together enjoyed the hearty, delicious meals prepared by Merom’s dining staff. In fact, some of us may have enjoyed those too much! The session ended with a worship service with communion on Sunday morning. (You may view a bulletin from that service on a hallway bulletin board outside the office.) Feedback from those of us in the small, but actively involved, group who attended this first session of BIBLE 101 was so positive that another session – perhaps “Bible 101.2” or “Bible 102” or something similar – will most likely be scheduled later this year or early in 2017. So, stay tuned and then plan to attend!
Personnel with Merom Conference Center appreciate the plastic lids and caps our church (and many others) have been collecting to be recycled into benches. Jana and I saw quite a few of these colorful benches – backs and backless ones – when we attended our retreat earlier in April.
Are there other ways to help Merom Conference Center as it continues toward its separation from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference of the UCC, but with the goal of sustaining/growing its ministry as a camp and retreat center? Well, one can always donate any monetary amount; in fact, envelopes are available at church for just that purpose. Even collect your coins! Plan and implement some type of fundraiser at our church – whether open to the public or just for our congregation. (Salem UCC in Westphalia had a spaghetti dinner last year, for example.) Attend the “LLALI” lunches held weekly during the school year for ages 55+ – only $6 per person – in Merom’s dining hall. Contacting Susie Larson, Site Director, in advance could offer a list of tasks needing to be done on-site for a group of youth or adult volunteers from our church – if not before summer camping season starts, then in the fall perhaps.
I pray – and hope you do too - that Merom Conference Center will be able to provide opportunities to “catch the Spirit” there for years to come!
Outdoor Ministries @ Merom has released its schedule for 2016! Registration forms and brochures to outline the options in more detail will be available at church. Please note: If any of St. John’s UCC youth plan to attend a summer camp, do contact the church office in advance. 50% of the camping fee is available from our church’s scholarship fund to help cover the registration fee IF the Early Bird registration deadline of May 15th is met.
In the meantime, see what may appeal to YOU here! (You may call the Merom office at 1-800-313-4511 if you have any questions that are not answered in the brochure or forms.)
BIBLE 101 (Spring Retreat for ages 21+) - This will be a weekend to study some of Jesus’ parables and how Matthew, Mark, Luke and John relate them to us, along with new ways of reading, listening, hearing and praying.
QUILTING & SCRAPPING W/JESUS (Spring Retreat for ages 21+) – Register by March 31st so supplies may be obtained by the leaders. Included will be Bible study with quilting, and/or scrapbooking. (A small additional cost and/or tools needed appear in the brochure.)
ALUMNI CAMP (Graduates of all Merom summer camps – 18 years+) – A spring weekend retreat lets old friends share their journeys since last camping at Merom.
GETTING STARTED (Half-Week Summer Camp for first-time campers going into 1st – 3rd grades; with optional parent retreat) – Activities include creative Bible studies, swimming, singing, crafts, and fellowship.
JUST YOU AND ME, KID (Intergenerational Summer Camp for children ages 4 – 10 with a parent, grandparent, or other significant adult) – All will engage in Bible verses creatively, crafts, games, swimming and fellowship.
FAITH JOURNEYS (Multi-age/Grade Summer Camp in 3 groups: youth going into 3rd – 6th grades, 7th- 9th grades, 10th through current H.S. grads) – The week includes age-group and all-camp activities to strengthen Christian community, camper maturity, and intergenerational learning. Participants may share their own stories while exploring stories from the Bible.
TRI-LEVEL (Summer Camp in large and smaller “Family Groups” in these age groups: youth going into 4th – 6th grades, 7th – 9th grades, and 10th grade – current H.S. grads) – Activities, discussions, and worship are planned by these age groups, offering chances to learn more about oneself, church, community, and the world. It will be an opportunity to form a closer, more personal relationship with God.
ALL AGES (Summer Camp for youth going into grade 3 – current H.S. grads) – Campers will spend the week in multi-age cabin and “Family Groups” while still having time with kids their own age. Appreciating the gifts each person brings (regardless of age) and having Christian values actively taught in a family setting are focuses of this camp.
CREATIVE SPIRIT (Summer Camp for youth going into 6th grade – current H.S. grads) – This is an inclusive camp with music, arts, drama, and dance, along with worship and reflection. All will get on stage in some capacity – split by age. There will be a shorter and large production.
AMP’D UP (Summer Camp for youth going into 7th grade – current H.S. grads) – Campers will explore ways to experience God and our spirituality through music, photography and art.
BACKSTAGE PASS (Summer Camp for youth going into 9th grade – current H.S. grads) – This is a camp for those who like to build, paint or draw! Campers will design and construct the set and do the technical aspects for Creative Spirit camp’s large production.
Things are moving ahead with the process set forth in a motion and passed at the June Annual Gathering, according to word from Karen Kay Pepmeier (who presented information about Merom Conference Center during a CAMEO session in Memorial Hall in 2015.) Once separation from the Indiana-Kentucky Conference (IKC) is completed, the plan is to start a capital campaign for Merom Conference Center. Here are a few ways that WE may utilize and assist Merom Conference Center in the meantime!
LLALI (aka, "Living Long & Loving It")
If you are a member of the senior population - in terms of chronological age, at least - did you know that a delicious and nutritious meal is served buffet-style most Wednesdays (except during the summer camping season and holidays) for only $6 at Merom's Dining Hall? Along with the salad bar and other menu items, drinks and dessert are included. You can find LLALI's menu through May 2016 included in this month's newsletter, and one is posted on a bulletin board in the hallway outside the church office.
We, as well as members of the Merom and surrounding communities, are welcome. In fact, 14 members of our congregation made a trial run for LLALI in the church van and one additional vehicle on Wednesday, December 9, 2015. The fellowship was greatly enjoyed, along with fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, fruit, the salad bar, rolls, apple dumplings for dessert, and coffee, tea, or water! Arrival by 11:30 allowed us enough time to secure places at the tables and our drinks. A few minutes before lunch at noon, there were some announcements prior to a prayer.
Although reservations are not required, it is wise to call Merom Conference Center at least a day or two in advance - and farther ahead for a larger group, such as ours was. We learned that school groups utilize this facility occasionally also; in fact, that was the case for the date our group had originally planned.) To make reservations for LLALI, one may call Merom Conference Center at 1-812-356-4511 or toll-free at 1-800-313-4511.
The Merom 5K Run/Walk is tentatively planned for the last Saturday in April, the 30th. This is an informal (vs. highly competitive) run/walk for any age: adults, youth, or families. (In 2015, participants from St. John’s UCC were Carmen Horton, Brenda Roark, and Lori Sanders.) Please stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.
On Sunday, January 11, 2015, Kay Pepmeier, the chairperson of the IK Conference Outdoor Ministries Committee, presented an information session during Sunday school time about Merom. Please read the summary of her presentation below and try to attend the February Wabash Valley PAC meeting on the 15th at Merom (2:30 pm)!
Currently Outdoor Ministries enjoys leadership from over 30 churches. In 2013, 53 churches participated in events at Merom. We had over 300 group days scheduled in 2014. We continue to add new programs to Merom’s calendar. We are the largest group of volunteers in the IKC and have created the largest network of connections in the IKC. This network helps to interconnect IKC members. Our youth network with adult volunteers. Our kids maintain relations through Merom connections. We promote faith growth experiences for our children, youth and adults.
Nearly half of the IKC Designated Reserve Funds are designated to Merom and Outdoor Ministries. According to a Nov. 2014 financial report of the IKC, these funds totaled $649,199.78. Of these funds $359,164.56 are in the Merom Endowment Fund and $268,331.09 are designated for building new cabins. Merom has run in a deficit for the past several years. This deficit is generally covered using funds from the Merom Endowment Fund. To become more financially feasible we need to build the new cabins for which money has been donated. This will allow us to host more groups at the same time. We also need financial support from our churches. 1/3 of the budget is based on donations and we are falling short in that area. There are several fundraising and support projects available at Merom. They can be found on the Merom website and in the Merom Spirit newsletter.
We also need our churches, conference leaders and campers to be excited about Merom. We need for them to share their experiences and encourage others to attend. If we don’t act soon, Merom may become just a memory. There are a variety of suggestions for Merom’s future. These range from spinning it off into a separate 501c3 to closing for a portion of the year to closing permanently and selling the property.
Important upcoming dates for Merom:
~~~Feb. 14, 2015 @7am - 10am Love Our Camp - Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast at Merom, Saturday, Goodwill Offering to raise money for repairs. Tours of the facility will be given
~~~Feb. 15 @ 2:30pm - Wabash Valley Association PAC Meeting at Merom. The topic will be Merom’s future.
~~~May 9 – Merom 5K at Merom and Louisville, possibly other locations. This is an annual fundraiser. We need volunteers, sponsors and walkers/runners.
~~~June 5 & 6 – IKC UCC Annual Gathering. Delegates are needed from all churches to vote on the future of Merom.