LONG PRAIRIE, MN (November 21, 2013) — Lake Beauty Bible Camp (LBBC) will launch its first-ever nine-month residential discipleship program for young adults in August 2014.
National Covenant leaders say the program, called Solid Rock, is a pilot project for others they hope to start in 2015 and which will come under the umbrella of the newly formed Covenant Schools of Discipleship (CSD). The CSD concept is a developing organization of the various discipleship initiatives from throughout the larger Covenant body.
The vision for Solid Rock is “to provide a sacred space for young adults to deepen their relationship with Christ and to seek and discern his calling in their lives, so that they may faithfully serve him in all facets of life and reflect his love to the world.”
Online registration opened this week. The program will combine an academic curriculum—modeled on North Park University coursework and coordinated by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom, director of general education at the university—with service learning and leadership development. Students also will travel to the Holy Land.
“It will build on the heritage of Covenant Bible College,” says Brian Alnes, LBBC executive director. That one-year discipleship training program closed several years ago.
“Since CBC closed, people see a gap in what we’ve been able to offer early adults as a denomination,” says Aune Carlson, who oversees the early adult ministry area for the denomination, and is a graduate of the CBC campus in Ecuador. “The mission, like that of CBC, is the discipleship of those in their early years of adulthood while parts of the new programs will be more contextualized to the sites where they are offered.”
The curriculum also will enable students to earn up to 24 credits that will be transferable to North Park and several other Christian universities, says Mark Olson, the university’s senior director of church relations.
Carlson says her own experience convinced her of the value of a residential discipleship program. “My time at CBC played an integral part in the setting of the trajectory of my life. The decision to attend was based on my desire to claim my faith as my own and to step off the coattails of my parents’ faith,” she says.
“CBC provided me a safe space,” she adds, “with faithful faculty and staff to ask questions of and wrestle with God as I learned to integrate my faith into my daily life. I know the difference that experience made in my life, but I also know that I’m only one of many that benefited from this experience and others like it.”
Although other discipleship programs exist outside the denomination, Solid Rock’s programming and curriculum will be rooted in the Covenant Affirmations. “It’s in the long-term interest of the Covenant to provide an alternative that embodies the values of the Covenant and is aligned with the missional priorities and characteristics of the ECC,” Olson says. “Covenant Affirmations is perhaps the most concise articulation of those values which are so deeply embedded in our identity.”
Also coming under CSD is Acts 29, a three-month international, cross-cultural program held in Ecuador this year. A program will be offered in India January 20 through April 13, 2014, and another sometime in fall 2014. Registration remains open for the fall term. Registration for the India school is closed.
The idea for Solid Rock was born when Mike McCain, pastor of Salem Covenant Church in Pennock, Minnesota, suggested it to Alnes several years ago. McCain’s daughter was looking for a similar program, but none was available through the Covenant.
In January of this year, roughly 30 Covenant leaders gathered in Chicago to discuss issues related to young adult discipleship and began to give further shape to the program at Lake Beauty.
Unlike most other Covenant camps, LBBC is not operated by the conference and has its own board and Annual Meeting. The Lake Beauty delegates affirmed moving forward at the 2012 Annual Meeting.
“There were tears in a lot of people’s eyes,” Alnes says.
Holding the discipleship programs at the camps will keep operating costs for the program significantly lower because most of the staff already will be in place, Alnes says. He adds, “It also will make better use of the facilities and therefore allow us to keep costs down for both the guest groups and the students.”
Lake Beauty does plan to expand its facilities in a way that will benefit the school and the camp’s future. Remodeling already has begun on a basement beneath the chapel that will enable Lake Beauty to expand its housing for staff and students. The camp is also adding onto the dining hall in order to provide more classrooms, storage, and eating area.
The camp has initiated a $500,000 fundraising effort to cover the cost. To see an artist’s rendering of the hall, click here.