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Pastor Story: Pastor Ben Worley

Recently I was honored to have some time to talk with Pastor Ben Worley of Emanuel St. John's Lutheran Church in Lytton, IA. Emanuel St. John's is one of our many member congregations and has supported the ministry of IOLBC for many years in sending campers and hosting one of summer Day Camp teams. Additionally, Ben serves on our Board of Directors and regularly attends family camp with his family.

Ben's introduction to IOLBC was actually during his internship at St. John's Lutheran in LeMars, IA (another member congregation). In hearing about the camp and seeing the church encourage kids to attend, he wanted to find out more. His supervising pastor of his internship, Pastor Paul Cross (a regular family camp speaker at IOLBC!) encouraged him to schedule a visit to the camp to talk with the staff. He came and spent time talking about the programs and approaches to ministry with Dan, our director of programs, and decided that the next year he would bring his family to family camp. The rest, in a way, is history.

His first year at family camp was the year where the theme was ALIVE and the t-shirt featured a Lego-guy as part of the logo. Why does he remember that? Because he would love another chance to buy that particular t-shirt! Other memories from that first year of camp included how much his toddler cried at every single meal, to the point where he was worried she hated camp. Then, Friday morning, she suddenly decided that everything was perfectly OK. Throughout the week, he felt that no one was judging him and his wife as bad parents for a crying child. As young parents, it was a powerful speaking and acting into their lives that taught them that could be more forgiving of themselves as they figured out this parenting thing! People were just happy they were there and introducing their kids to camp.

As the years have gone by, the family has grown in number and in age. In recent years they have loved their time out on the tubing boat, participating in the family talent show, and flipping off of the thunderdome into the lake. As a parent, Ben appreciates that camp isn't something that suddenly becomes a focus when it is time to go to camp but that his kids are thinking about it throughout the year. And while it certainly has been a blessing that his church is connected to IOLBC and values camping ministry in general, they would have been here as a family because of their experiences throughout the years. For Ben and his family, no matter what it going well or what needs some attention, camp is a YES for everyone with everyone excited to go each year.

Ben has served on IOLBC's Board of Directors since the spring of 2016. I asked him what his time supporting the ministry of IOLBC in this way has taught him and he said that he has come to appreciate the long process that goes into making camp happen, both on a yearly program level and on a bigger picture, long-term projects level. From something being presented as an idea to it coming to life and being completed is a much longer process than he realized!

When it comes to how IOLBC has influenced and/or impacted his ministry, Ben shared that his involvement with camp has really shown him how much of a team effort ministry really is. There is a lot of ministry which happens outside of the church in other places and a lot of people working to remind us that we are loved by God. Our faith is not meant to be a loner faith.

One of the things that struck me personally about what Ben said is that "Camp is like liturgy." There are both things that change from year to year and things which remain the same and you know you can count on from year to year.

As we were closing out our time, I asked Ben if there were any particularly distinct memories he wanted to share. One of those was the first year they went to the mime as a family. His older kids simply declared that they were going that year and he was surprised by how much they connected with it and engaged in the service.

And while they weren't distinct memories, Ben commented that in general, especially as a pastor, it is great to be able to come and just listen to what someone else has to say. He also commented on how Family Camp actually feels like a vacation because there is plenty for the kids to do and they know this is a place where they can go and do their thing safely. In recent years, Ben has started getting involved with a ministry known as Via De Christo which uses the camp as the location for their annual retreats in January. Coming as a retreat guest for a completely different type of program has also been a fun way for Ben to experience camp.

Thanks Pastor Ben for sharing some of your stories and thoughts with us!

  • If you want to know more about Ben's church, you can view their website HERE.


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