Lakeview Takes a Financial Hit with Pandemic, Pastor Issues Financial Challenge
By Lindsay Peyton
Jacksonville FUMC’s Rev. Doug Wintermute hopes other congregations in the Texas Annual Conference rise to the challenge his church recently issued, when presenting a check for $11,000 to Lakeview Methodist Conference Center in its time of need. “Lakeview has been there for us for years and years,” he said. “Now it’s time for us to be there for them.”
When summer camp was canceled at Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, organizers knew they would face a budget shortfall. Usually, most of the funding for the year is generated during the camp.
Then, came the announcement of another cancelation -- Fish Camp, the Texas A&M welcoming session for incoming freshmen, also held at Lakeview.
In all, the center now faces a $2.4 million deficit. That was a hit that Jacksonville FUMC would not take lying down.
“We send lots of kids to church camp each year,” Wintermute said. “It’s in the DNA of our congregation. We have seen how important church camp is – and how many lives are changed by going to church camp.”
Each year, Jacksonville FUMC budgets and hosts fundraisers to make possible a 50 percent discount for students to attend camp. The church also sends counselors to Lakeview.
“We believe that any young person who wants to go to camp, should be able to go, regardless of a family’s income,” Wintermute said. “We don’t let money stand in the way.”
When Jacksonville FUMC learned that Lakeview had to cancel all of its camps, the congregation stepped up to help. First, they took up a collection at church for $3,000.
“Then, we talked it over with our finance committee and church leadership council,” Wintermute said. “They overwhelmingly voted to donate the money we had set aside for sending kids to camp this year.”
The unused funds totaled $11,000, and Wintermute delivered a check in that amount to Josh Pulver, president and CEO of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center.
“I want to challenge the other churches and pastors in the TAC to do the same thing,” Wintermute said. “Whatever money you have budgeted, donate to Lakeview. Or just take up a collection. It’s money well spent.”
The pastor has been a counselor and a director at Lakeview. He counts 16 summers spent at the camp.
“All of those years, I’ve seen the difference camp makes in young folks’ lives,” he said. “Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ – and that happens every summer at Lakeview.”
Pulver explained that every donation amounts to a meaningful difference for the center. “Everything helps,” he said.
Individuals have been sent in donations, and the TAC gifted $149,000.
“There has been a lot of support, but we definitely need more,” Pulver said. “As long as COVID-19 continues, we will continue to see loss.”
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center was established in 1947. “It provides an opportunity for a child or an adult to get away from the distractions of the outside world and just focus on God,” Pulver said.
The center has become a sanctuary for families and churches, a place to reconnect with God’s plans.
“I have seen transformations in our campers in even a short amount of time – literally seen the Holy Spirit at work,” Pulver said.
Summer camp was a saving grace for him personally -- and he hopes others have the chance to share that experience for generations to come.
To donate and learn more, visit lakeviewmcc.org/donate.