Currently the United Methodist Church is in a state of uncertainty and upheaval.  As with all significant conflicts, the contributing factors are often more complex than the surface of the issue appears.  The church’s stance on LGBTQIA+ inclusion or exclusion is the face of the current conflict.  This topic has divided the United Methodist Church for nearly 40 years.  The situation appears to be at a tipping point which may lead to a split of the church at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in early May.  While the future form of the UMC may not be clear, the focus of Retreat & Camping Ministries remains the same.  We strive to provide camp opportunities that utilize experiential learning and communal Christian living to guide individuals as they discover love of God, self, neighbor, and nature.  With this goal in mind, Camp Harmison, Manidokan Camp & Retreat Center, and The West River Center will continue to be a welcoming, safe, and supportive place for our LGBTQIA+ siblings.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them;

for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14 (NRSV)

The Retreat & Camping Ministries of the Baltimore-Washington Conference will continue help children come to Jesus—to help ALL children come to Jesus. It is our hope and prayer that if there is a separation of the United Methodist Church, we will continue to be able to serve and minister with people regardless of denominational affiliation.  Each week at camp we strive to create a loving Christian community in which we play, learn, and experience God together as one body. The welcome of all people and the diversity of the group is one of the most powerful elements of the camp experience. We form authentic relationships with each other and learn how to lovingly live with each other through our similarities and our differences. These shared experiences at camp demonstrate God’s love, creativity, and grace in ways that campers, volunteers, and staff remember and continue to live into long after camp has ended.

While at this time in the life of the church we feel it is important to name our welcome and support for LGBTQIA+ people and allies, we continue to work with passion and intentionality to offer hospitality and programs which break down all exclusionary practices, including those around race, gender, ability and economic status.


Chris Schlieckert, Director Retreat and Camping Ministry

April 2020