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Hope still alive for Wesleyan Camp as association approves lease

WEST CHAZY In a move that may save the Wesleyan Bible Camp from permanent closure, members of the West Chazy Holiness Camp Meeting Association voted 31 to 1 in favor of a proposal to lease the West Chazy camp for $36,000 for one year. Under the proposed new structure, cottage owners will have to pay an annual lease of $500, which entitles them to attend camp meetings, work days and other events, for a total of 45 days per year. The cottage lease payments will be applied toward the greater lease amount. That means in order to cover the full $36,000, at least 72 individual owners or 65 percent of the estimated 110 cottage owners will have to follow through. Asked about repairs and maintenance to the more than 100-year-old camp, association president Dale Robar responded those items would be covered in the associations budget, but would probably have to be financed through donations and offerings during revival services. In the past, those donations have annually totaled well more than $36,000. The association has also received an offer of a $10,000 matching donation from an anonymous donor. The $10,000 donation will be made if another individual $10,000 donor can be found. Although the vote to accept the proposal does not yet commit the association to anything, it does allow the parties to move forward. The next step is to notify the district the lease was approved and allow the attorneys to negotiate the details. Im very encouraged, said Mr. Robar. Were one step closer to Holiness Camp Meeting in 2008. Although the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of accepting the proposed lease, it was not without controversy and emotion, with many speakers breaking down into tears. Should we be expected to pay for their mistakes, asked cottage owner Bob Atwood of West Chazy. I wonder if our people in power have run the business of this district as well as some of the people in this room could. This is not a good business decision, he added to the agreement of many who felt the amount of the lease was too much. The Rev. Kevin Finley of Ellenburg agreed it was not a good business transaction, but reminded everyone there are different rules for spiritual transactions. We all believe in the Wesleyan theology and are a part of this district, he said. Our trust in our district may have wavered, but our money is still going to help the district. Others spoke saying their voices have been unheard by the district leadership. Several people also expressed concern the district had allegedly told pastors they cannot promote the camp or the association, leaving them with little means to garner support from the greater Wesleyan community. But the one thing all were in agreement on was the value camp meetings had added to so many lives. Many have been attending the camp for several years. We have a new pastor who was converted during camp meeting, said one attendee. How many pastors are around because of our camp? The camp was closed by resolution during the 165th District Conference of the Eastern New York\New England District of the Wesleyan Church in June 2007. The resolution asserted the camp had received insufficient financial support, was in severe disrepair, and it could cost millions of dollars to bring it up to a place of acceptable usability and marketability for the future. The West Chazy Holiness Camp Meeting Association was formed shortly thereafter to explore the possibility of leasing or purchasing the camp in order to continue to have camp meetings. The District Board of Administration gave the association until May 2008 to reach an agreement with the district, or the camp and all leases will revert to the district for management and disposal.

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