Stone Ministry Update


by Peter Seirup

In the late 1990s I was picking up one of my three kids from Eagle 1 after his two weeks at the Woodsmoke kids’ camp when I had a vision. I was looking at a stone wall that farmers had built years ago, and I imagined a program where campers could cement stones into an evolving structure.

Like an earworm this vision did not go away. After about five years of percolation, I felt I should put the vision on paper and propose it to the Kingswood Site Committee.

In 2003 the Site Committee approved the Stone Ministry program of helping campers befriend stones, clean them, mark them with a special message  and cement them into our timeless evolving structure.  Even though the camp is only open about ten weeks each summer, Stone Ministry soon became my year-round passion.  Off season I would listen to nudgings from the Holy Spirit and have fun making plans.

By 2017 thousands of stones had been placed by campers which created stone columns and arches surrounding a grand Rumford-style fireplace and its tall stone chimney.  Every stone was unique.  Every stone was inscribed with a special message. And every stone was a “keystone” because without it, there would be nothing for the stones surrounding it to lean on.  

Fortunately, what started as a handful of Stone Ministry Masons helping campers cement stones, gradually became a group of about a dozen and a half Stone Ministry enthusiasts.  This was timely, because chapels have roofs and creating a roof structure was beyond our Stone Ministry campers program.  So for the last five years or so, our enthusiasts have met about twice each year and milled hemlock from our forest into heavy timber, assembled about half of the eventual, magnificent roof structure and covered part of it with slate imported about 150 miles away from Vermont.

Since we have known from the beginning that building this chapel would take at least 30 years, people occasionally asked me whether or not I expected to see it finished. I would smile and say that I would like that very much, but I guess we will just have to wait and see.

One of my favorite gifts from God is that the future is unknown. This is what allows us to have hope.  Last summer was the first summer I was going to put my paid job aside completely to spend more time at Kingswood. As the randomness of life would have it, I had a cerebral hemorrhage driving up to camp at the end of June. As a result, I was paralyzed completely on the left side and spent the next seven weeks in hospitals from ICU to rehab.

Our Stone Ministry enthusiasts immediately jumped into action. They led the Friday and Saturday Stone cementing sessions all summer and also helped with the more recent Friday night Vespers prayer service. Summer activities at Stone  Ministry included a memorial service for Peter Swords that was attended by around 50 people.

I was encouraged, honored and excited to be visited in the hospital by Stone Ministry friends every week.  When I got out in August, I went straight to Kingswood. I may have been physically diminished, but I was able to help campers cement in permanent personal anchors into our chapel of diversity.

To be continued…