I hear all went well at church yesterday. Thanks to Jim Pratte for filling in for me with the preaching. I was sorry to miss the big day and the mission fair. Let me tell you a little about where I was and why I wasn’t here.
Saturday afternoon my family and I were part of a big celebration at Suttle Lake United Methodist Camp, near Sisters, Oregon. We celebrated the 90th anniversary of the camp and we dedicated the newest camp building — the Nellie Watts Welcome Center.
Grandma Watts was a big part of my life from as early as I can remember. My grandparents on my mom’s side lived in Escondido, California but Grandma Watts lived in Madras, Oregon, where I lived the first 18 years of my life. We spent a lot of time together. We were very close. She is probably more than any other single person the reason I went into ministry.
Grandma Watts was 20 years old in 1922 when she and a few other young adults started a Christian camp at Suttle Lake. She got married that September and my dad was born in 1924. We have baby pictures of him at camp. Grandma was a big part of that camp for most of her life. They started on the primitive side. Who needed buildings, electricity, or running water? Now it’s one of the biggest and best developed camps in the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It was quite an honor to have the new Welcome Center named after her.
There were 130 of us at camp and 36 of them were family members (see attached family picture — my dad’s in front of Helen and my mom’s in front of me). Nellie’s family traveled from as far away as Phoenix, Arizona. They ranged in age from 3 to 92. They all said pretty much the same thing when I told them how glad I was they could come: “I wouldn’t miss it.”
Whenever the whole family gets together, which is too seldom, I hear stories I’ve never heard before. My favorite this time was about my grandmother playing piano one Sunday at church. My dad and his younger brother, Lynden, were misbehaving on the floor nearby. Their mom stopped playing, gave them both a good spanking, and then returned to the piano bench and continued with the hymn right where she had left off.
I’m part of a crazy family, a fun family, a loyal and loving family. I hope you are, too. Family is important to God, and there is a place for all of us in the family of God. That’s one of the many great things our children learn and experience at camp.
In Christ, Pastor John Watts