Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Ripple Effect

Rev. Karen Radcliffe was standing on the deck of the Lakeside Chapel at Asbury Hills tossing pebbles into the lake. After a few moments, she turned to her group of youth she brought from St. John’s UMC and said, “Just keep watching the ripples in the water.” She continued tossing pebbles in for a few more moments before turning and continuing our tour of Asbury Hills with the group. Later, the group stopped for lunch at the Mountain Chapel, and Karen shared her story.

“I served as the Waterfront Director [at Asbury Hills] in the 70’s. I was in charge of organizing the pool and lake activities – swimming, canoeing, games. I also assisted in setting up for the weekly evening worship at the lake chapel. Back then, we lit luminaries around the trail leading to the chapel. And by the time worship was over, it was so dark, the only thing you could see was the flickering light from the candles glowing around the lake. It was on one of those nights, after worship had concluded and campers were following the candlelight back around the lake, that I very clearly heard God calling me into ministry.”

She continued on, and asked her group to remember the pebbles she tossed in the lake earlier that day.

“I believe that’s how God works at Asbury Hills. He is able to toss pebbles into our lives by calling us to transform into someone greater. And maybe that is volunteering as a Sunday school teacher or serving as a nurse or maybe God will one day call you into ministry. It is amazing to me to see how the pebbles God tosses at camp can cause ripples that spread much farther than we could ever imagine.”

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Categories: Asbury Hills, Retreats, Summer Camp | Leave a comment


As someone who competes in triathlons, I’m in the gym a lot. This means that every year when January rolls around, I am acutely aware that it’s resolution season. Now I mostly think that resolutions and goal setting are very good things. It might take me a little longer to complete my circuit training, but more people are striving for their goal to be healthier. And I might not have space on my pew for my coat and purse because worship was more crowded last Sunday, but I think families making faith a priority in the new year is a very good thing.


So why is it then, that I will no longer have trouble finding a spin bike or treadmill by mid-February? Why do resolutions for many not stick? Psychologists have written many theories about why this may be the cause, how to make your resolutions, setting yourself up for success, etc. In many cases it boils down to trying to go it alone and not having a plan.

Our Asbury Hills staff set goals for the beginning of each year. Things we would like to accomplish. New ideas we would like try. Areas we would like to grow. But the goal of our ministry as a whole remains the same: serve all people for Christian birth, growth, and renewal. Our staff goals feed into this mission. We create plans and hold each other accountable to set our ministry up for success. And sometimes this means changing some things up.


Asbury Hills was blessed with growth in 2015. We served more summer campers than ever before. We hired new staff. We partnered with new churches. We served more retreat guests. And this growth made us realize that in order to be successful at living into our mission, we needed to focus. We needed to take a hard look at everything we were doing, how we could make it better, and how it fit into our mission. What we realized is, we needed to switch some things up. So we did.

Joseph Stanczak transitioned from program manager to summer camp director. Instead of spreading his time between all things programming (which in camping is A LOT), he can focus on making our summer programs the best they can be. Joseph can focus on recruiting and hiring the best staff, spreading the word about summer camp, training and pouring into our staff members, and making sure the summer camp weeks will be the best we’ve ever offered. Chris Hulme also transitioned from facilitates manager to retreat and recreation director. For the first time, Asbury Hills has a staff member dedicated to lead and grow all aspects of retreat seasons and exhibit the highest standards in recreation.

We are excited to see how clarity in our mission, staff member focus, and God’s blessing will allow us to best serve you in 2016. Happy New Year!

Categories: Retreats | Leave a comment

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