Under the Bell

Volume. 3

There is a sound and a smell. They come simultaneously. It’s the smell of drying grass that pops and crackles as it dries. It is something that is so easy to miss. A silent walk past Little House and down the gravel driveway to where family groups and long-ago fire-pit roast pig cooked is the place to be. Silent, deeply breathing, a-tune to all the glories that are Camp Caz, you will hear it and smell it as you breathe deeply: drying grass. It is easy to miss.

We don’t often take the time or space to think about all that it took to get those blades of grass ripening in the sun. In the same way, we haven’t taken the time and space to think about all that it took to run our Outdoor Ministries camp at Cazadero until it became solely our job, the job of THE CONFERENCE = US. It has been a lot in a very short time. There have been hundreds of volunteers and staff giving their time and energy and skills and money to keep Camp Caz afloat as WE figure out what to do.

Conference Council brought together a group of people to dream about Caz. What if nothing was stopping us? How would we envision Caz? They were called The Dreamers. And dream they did bring a wonderful, inclusive, sustainable, diverse plan for Caz with multiple ministries. It is amazing.

Then Conference Council brought together a group of people to look at what was feasible. Could Caz actually be this light? Yes, it could. If so, how much? How long? How far would we need to go? Their proposal was brought to our March 13th Annual Meeting, via Zoom, for the delegates to vote. At the same time, an unsolicited letter was received from a group outside the UCC that asked if we would consider selling Camp Caz. This was brought to the meeting as well.

March 13th was a beautiful and a rough day. In the end, the delegates voted to pursue both ideas; try to sell and also to see if Camp Caz could be self-sustaining, perhaps as a non-profit. FABC, the financial arm of our Conference governance is tasked with trying to sell. A new committee was called by Conference Council to look into hiring a consultant to look at the feasibility of Camp Caz, respond to those recommendations, consider Caz as a nonprofit, and fundraise to make those recommendations a reality unless the recommendation is to sell. As you can read, keeping in the UCC tradition, we are not exclusive in possibilities but inclusive. Two ideas, divergent and yet together – proceed. And so the new committee begins calling ourselves into a circle “Under the Bell” to look at possibilities to develop a self-sustaining Caz at the same time as FABC looks into selling.

Blessings. Step out and into nature and listen and smell God’s creation. Rev. Charlotte Asher


Under the Bell