By Eric Thomas
Photo/Special to The Source Newspaper
It first takes a God-inspired vision that materializes into reality. You combine that with caring and loving people, and you are sure to have a God-sized success on your hands.
Green Pastures Christian Retreat Center began in 1978 when Doris Groat and husband Bud followed God’s leading and founded this growing ministry. After their retirement, Cary and Sharon Coker served the camp well for many years as camp hosts. Stepping into the host shoes this year is Daniel Lepper. “I take a lot of inspiration from the Groats and Cokers,” remarked Lepper. “I only hope to serve here for as long and as well as they did.” Lepper and his wife, Christy, live onsite with their three children.
Lepper did not grow up attending camps, but has been at Christian camps since 2004 when he served as a counselor at a junior camp for 5th – 6th graders at Lake Springfield Christian Assembly. In 2010 he stepped into the position of co-dean helping to lead and plan camp sessions. “I had a handful of opportunities to serve at other camps over the years,” recalled Lepper. “It became clear that God had placed a calling for me to go into full-time camp ministry.”
As camp host, Lepper provides maintenance and care to the facilities, guest services to those who want to use the camp, and bookkeeping. In addition to the camps held in June and July, they have camping sites, tents, a lodge with 16 rooms, apartments, efficiencies and a cottage for rent. Rounding out Green Pastures, there is an outdoor stage area, a fire pit and a pond.
“We could have a lot of fun exploring ideas as Green Pastures grows,” concluded camp host Lepper. “I could see camps surrounding fitness, teaching how to keep our bodies, or the temple of the Holy Spirit as Paul tells us, in shape … maybe Bible study groups fostering a true passion for studying the Word of God.” Lepper would be happy to explore whatever needs your group has.
“Fire in Our Hearts” (FIOH) camps take place starting in July on weekdays, with the dates being July 8-12, July 22-26 and July 29-August 2. Each of the FIOH camps are five fun-filled days for youth utilizing recreation, small groups, worship, teaching and ministry times to share the love of Jesus. The overall focus is to help you develop your relationship with Christ and other Christians. This camp started around the year 2000 and there are now between 200-250 campers during the summer for both camps, with 75 counselors. The cost of this camp is $95 each camper. The camps are open to campers entering 5th – 12th grades and you can register through the website www.greenpasturesretreatcenter.org.
Located at 1936 US-67 between Meredosia and Jacksonville, Green Pastures is a picturesque campground complete with an air-conditioned retreat center and a beautiful 41-acre campus. The main floor of the retreat center is a multi-purpose room that can hold up to 400 people. The middle level includes a kitchen, a dining room with a capacity of 250 people and two classrooms. The walk-out basement is a cozy library great for prayer meetings, small group sessions or staff meetings. In addition to the retreat center, the bunkhouse is divided into two floors, sleeping 42 on one floor and 40 on the other in bunk beds. Both floors have bathroom/shower facilities and air conditioning. Check out all their facilities and rates for usage on their website. The campgrounds are owned by Green Pastures Christian Campground, Incorporated.
(Lepper is available to talk with you or your group about planning a weekend outing, retreat or even longer stays. Green Pastures’ phone number is 217-584-1374. Or, call toll-free at 1-877-263-1374).