– Pastor Doug Allen of Canandaigua is one of several adults who shares in the rewards of ministry at LeTourneau. At the 80th Anniversary celebration of LeTourneau’s ministry Dec. 5, Pastor Allen shared his thoughts on the impact LeTourneau has made through the years:
For the last 34 years I have been the pastor of the church first known as Canandaigua Baptist Church and now known by the name Lifespring Community Church. Since our very beginning we have been in partnership with LeTourneau. Our church began in the home of Mr. Harold Seeley, the longtime director, and his wife, Fran, in 1957. They, along with LeTourneau staffers Avis Sowl and Gerri Moose were founding charter members of our church.
But our partnership has extended well beyond that beginning. LeTourneau staff members have remained some of the most committed servants in our church ministry, and LeTourneau’s ministry has provided incredibly important service to our church. For years, we held a week-long day camp at LeTourneau for boys and girls. I vividly recall Chef Jack Gross coming out on the porch of the old dining hall to introduce the menu each day. The camp has hosted retreats and leadership training events and we still hold our church picnic here each summer. Many of our members also enjoy special seasonal dinners & Blessed Hope- sponsored luncheons.
Perhaps as significant as anything has been the opportunity for many our teens to come and serve here as seasonal staff. It would be impossible to tally the spiritual credit that has accrued in heaven’s bank for the investment that this camp has made in the lives of teens. I can’t begin to count how many of our church kids have reaped the benefits of that investment. Working at camp meant you got to rub shoulders with these godly adult role models. Many teens who attended and served here have gone on into significant Christian service. If you’ve seen the “Lighting Our Future” video on the website, you saw a few of them, all grown up now.
My involvement with LeTourneau has been not only as a pastor, but personal as well. Back in the day when LeTourneau sponsored its own Family Camp week (originally called “Baptist Life” week), I was privileged to be invited here four times as the keynote speaker and Bible teacher. At those times, my own young family got to stay the week at Lakeside Cottage and enjoy the programs and hospitality. Those weeks were highlights for our family and left a lasting impression.
So what is it that makes LeTourneau such a special place? There is something about it, isn’t there? And it goes well beyond the natural beauty and the lake, beyond these well-kept buildings. What makes this place special? It’s the people! Or, to be more accurate: the Lord in the people.
I was not privileged to know the Strathearns back when the camp was first founded – they were even before MY time! But I have been privileged to know most of the people who make LeTourneau, well, LeTourneau, starting with the Seeleys and then others down through the years.
And this is what you come to know and feel when you come here to LeTourneau: these are people with a genuine and humble love for God and love for people.
In Matthew 22, Jesus gave us the Greatest Commandment, putting it into practical focus:
Love the Lord your God with everything you have and love your Neighbor as yourself.
THAT commandment has been the foundation of LeTourneau through all these years, and it is THAT commandment which will carry this ministry into the future.
It occurs to me I probably haven’t said a single thing here that you didn’t already know. But that too, says something as well – right? Once you’ve spent some time here, you know what this camp and these people are all about. And that’s what we’ve celebrated for 80 years.
–Pastor Doug Allen, Lifespring Community Church, Canandaigua, NY