Briefs: Prime Real Estate, Fireworks, and Great Camps

EDINA, MN (August 15, 2011) – Developers keep calling the Edina Covenant Church trying to persuade the congregation to sell their property, but so far, the answer has always been “no.”

Pastor Ben Swanson told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the church isn’t anxious to sell. The church is “a community of people that happens to be situated on a very valuable piece of land,” he said. “But the value is not so much in the money as in the central location.” Edina Covenant is near a popular intersection.

The church has been willing to listen to offers, however. A developer offered a six-figure payment for a piece of its lot and a land swap that would have preserved most of its parking spaces. The church’s property would have been used for single-family homes.

City officials said they wouldn’t clear the deal, however, citing concerns about changes in zoning.

Developers have pursued purchasing property from a number of congregations in the area because the church buildings are located on large lots.

Camp Extension of After-school Tutoring Program

WALNUT CREEK, CA – High school-aged youth served as the counseling staff as the Creek Covenant Church hosted Adventure Camp last week. The experience is an extension of the church’s afterschool tutoring ministry among Hispanic families in a Walnut Creek neighborhood. Twenty-five community youth and 20 kids from the church participated in the week of excursions.

Lottery and Fireworks Change Teens’ Lives

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA – A lottery and fireworks enabled Lighthouse Covenant Church to send teens to camp, where many of them made first-time decisions or recommitted their lives to follow Christ.

This year, West Sacramento allowed the sale of fireworks for the first time. Twenty-nine religious nonprofits sought a sales permit, but only two were chosen by lottery. One went to Lighthouse Covenant Church, which netted nearly $11,000 in sales.

Within days many of them were going to church with youth pastors at Lighthouse and other West Sacramento fellowships. “I have a feeling,” said one Lighthouse member, “that the real fireworks are yet to come.”

Lighthouse volunteers staffed the sales booth for eight days, an experience that provided “incredible interaction with the community and weaved our merged fellowship even tighter as people worked, laughed and problem-solved together,” said Pastor Don Bosley.

Lighthouse formed when River of Life Church and Westside Covenant merged last fall.

‘Mountaintop Experience’ for Inner-City Youth at Alpine Camp

BLUE JAY, CA – Christians shouldn’t be seeking constant mountaintop experiences, but 206 inner-city youth who attended Alpine Camp and Conference Centers‘ Mountain Adventure Camp (MAC) did.

The week-long event enables the teens to step outside their urban environment. Twenty-eight students made first-time decisions for Christ and another 66 rededicated their lives.

This was the 11th year for the program, which grew after a strategic decision was made several years ago regarding camp staff. Camp leaders began to notice a disconnect – kids from urban, multiethnic, and socio-economically diverse communities across Los Angeles were arriving at the Blue Jay camp to be greeted by leaders and speakers who were predominantly white.

That was when the camp decided to invite local adult counselors already invested in the students’ lives into a greater level of program involvement, said David Zepeda, ministry advancement manager. Instead of bringing in an outside speaker who tries to relate to the youth, many of the counselors now make up an ethnically diverse roster of speakers and workshop presenters.

Since then, “Programming is more effective, collaboration with ministry partners has increased, and there is a dynamic relationship between campers and staff,” said Zepeda.

Alpine also partners with churches in funding the MAC experience. “Most participants receive some level of scholarship,” Zepeda says. “Many have approximately 90 percent of their registration costs covered and participate with a co-payment starting at $25. This arrangement helps supplement camp scholarship funding.”

Four California churches sent youth to MAC this year: Abundant Life Covenant Bible Church in Pasadena, Eagle Rock Covenant Church in Los Angeles, Iglesia del Pacto Eagle Rock in Los Angeles, and Amigos de La Gracia Covenant Church in Rialto.

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