Our Mission


"Glisson joins with the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to nurture leadership by creating experiences in Creation and in Christian community that encourage transformation, growth, and renewal for all people."

If that sounds like something you would like to be a part of, we invite you to explore this website for the many opportunities to experience and support the Glisson mission:
For a closer look at our mission statement, continue reading below:
 

Mission Origin


“The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

This is the mission statement of the United Methodist Church, as adapted at the 2008 General Conference.  BoardSource, Inc., a consulting resource for non-profits, states that a mission statement “clarifies the essence of an organization’s existence.  It describes the needs an organization was created to fill and answers the basic question of why it exists.”  The United Methodist Church exists to make disciples of Christ so that the world might be transformed.

As a part of the larger church, Glisson’s work, resources and efforts must support this mission of the United Methodist Church.  For Glisson to do otherwise would make it superfluous.

However, as only a part of the larger church, Glisson must identify its role in helping the church fulfill its mission.  As a camp and retreat center in a beautiful outdoor setting, Glisson has unique gifts and resources that differ from those of other church agencies.  Understanding how those particular gifts, resources and abilities support the broader church mission gives Glisson its identity and relevance.

Efforts to describe the needs of the broader church that are uniquely met by Glisson’s particular strengths as a camp and retreat center have led to the following statement:

"Glisson joins with the church to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to nurture leadership by creating experiences in Creation and in Christian community that encourage transformation, growth, and renewal for all people."

 

A Closer Look


A closer examination of the words used in this statement is necessary to fully appreciate the unique ways Glisson’s mission supports the mission of the church.

“Glisson…by creating experiences…”

This phrase is perhaps the most important, most distinctive part of the Glisson mission.

The current use of the word “experience” in a passive, consumer, entertainment-oriented sense belies its Latin roots and our intended sense of the word.  From the Latin “expertus”, experience implies an active participation in events or activities that leads to the accumulation of knowledge or skill.  It involves the feeling of emotions and sensations through personal involvement rather than abstract reflection on an event or activity.

Living together as campers or retreat participants isn’t just a necessary convenience for the passive conveyance of information.  If it becomes merely that, we are failing to make use of camping’s greatest gift to the church – the offering of true active experiences that develop skills and expertise in our children, youth and adults.  It is the active participation in, experience of, Christian community and God’s creation that help our campers become experts in “being the church” for one another and in understanding God as Creator, to become disciples.  (See “God’s creation” and “Christian community” for more.)

A second Latin root offers additional understanding of our use of “experience” in our mission statement.  The center of the word contains the root related to the Latin “periculum”, meaning danger or risk.  Glisson does not create danger for its campers or retreat participants.  However, our understanding that change (“transformation”, “growth” or “renewal”) does not happen outside of the context of discomfort or risk influences how we operate and the activities we offer.

It is the discomfort involved in meeting new people and making new friends and the risk of sharing thoughts, feelings and faith that are essential to the development of Christian community.  It is the risk of hiking out on a trail and the discomfort of camping overnight that produce new understandings of and appreciation for God’s creation.  It is the risk of speaking in public for the first time and the discomfort of leading others that nurtures leadership.  Glisson offers time away from the normal comfort of daily life and, in so doing, creates experiences that develop skill and knowledge in the people we serve.
 

“…in Creation…”

Glisson is honored to be stewards of over 380 acres of property in Lumpkin County, Georgia.  This property is covered with mountainous eastern woodland forest and is split by a mountain stream featuring a 45-foot waterfall.  Wild critters abound and a diversity of flora includes a number of endangered species on site.  God’s creation is one of the resources Glisson brings to its fulfillment of the church’s mission.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where there voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.    Psalm 19:1-4a, NIV

In a society increasingly divorced from the land and a world in which wilderness is disappearing, the value to the church of a place set aside to “declare the glory of God” and to “proclaim the work of his hands” cannot be overestimated.  In spite of, or perhaps because we are surrounded by the visual and aural distractions of daily human life, experiences in a relatively unspoiled part of God’s creation can speak volumes of the nature of God, of God’s care, and of God’s sustaining love.  This voice transcends language and speech.  It is heard and has impact with or without our intervention or planning, merely by making God’s creation available to all.

As a camp we are intentional about creating experiences that take place out of doors.  We place a premium on activities that require natural settings and on experiences that build skills in and knowledge about creation.  Recognizing the breadth of creation’s diversity, we create experiences that take place in other locations and in other ecosystems so that our campers’ understanding of God as creator may be further enhanced.
 

“…in Christian community…”

The very nature of God is one of relationship, of community.  It is foundational to our understanding of the Christian faith that God seeks us, pursues us, woos us into an ongoing relationship that is transformative in nature.  God chose to come and live among us in Christ and to experience with us the joy and sadness, energy and pain, healing and even death that are a part of human life.  The stories from Jesus’ life are examples for our living as Christians – of empathy, of forgiveness, of healing, of challenge, of leadership, of sacrifice.

It is one thing to feel empathetic toward someone on life’s margins.  It is another to experience the risk of standing alongside someone at the edge of the community.  It is one thing to understand forgiveness.  It is another to embrace the one by whom you’ve just been wronged.  It is one thing to want to be a leader.  It is another to call into account colleagues for whom you are responsible.  It is one thing to be willing to sacrifice.  It is another to sit up into the night with yet another homesick camper for the third night in a row.

The experience of Christian community in the camp and retreat setting moves discipleship from the abstraction of the Sunday school room to practice.  As they live, eat, play, worship, learn, risk and share together, campers are practicing “being the church” for one another.  Just as athletes, musicians, dancers and drivers gain expertise through practice, disciples must practice disciplined living to develop as Christians.

As important, the camp community offers unique opportunities for growth unavailable in the community (school, family, neighborhood, even church) that the camper experiences daily because the camp or retreat community is temporary in nature.  This unique gift can become a resource as the participant is freed to play different roles in the family system, experimenting with new and often more healthy ways of interacting. 
 

“…transformation…”

The common understanding of the word “transformation” at Camp Glisson is related to the making of disciples.  Camp Glisson has for years been a place where God’s presence is felt in ways that call people into relationship and beginning their lives in Christ, where contemplation and prayer lead people to renew their commitment to faith and where people have heard God’s calling to vocation.  That fundamental change in the way Christians see the world is begun and experienced during summer camp.

It is in our campers’ living out their Christian transformation on a personal level that a second, less apparent transformation takes place.  Paul said it well in II Corinthians 5:17, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (NRSV)  When disciples nurture and live out their faith the world around them begins to change…”everything has become new!”

Former Glisson campers and staff can be found working and living in settings that make a difference in the world: whether that is as clergy or lay servants in the church or as those continuing to serve the needs of children and youth in schools, social agencies or non-profits.  Because of Glisson’s work, the world is changed.
 

“…growth…”

Part of our understanding of “making disciples of Jesus Christ” is John Wesley’s notion of “going on to perfection”.  Wesley thought that Christians continually grow in our knowledge of God and our ability to live according to God’s calling throughout our lives.  He expected people to continually grow.

Growth is a form of change.  It happens when the people God created us to be are recognized, nurtured, and challenged, in spite of how well disguised that potential may be.  Glisson creates experiences that allow participants and their leaders to recognize their talents and abilities, to practice and learn how to utilize them in safe environments, and to stretch beyond the participants’ comfort to develop skills.

We recognize that Glisson helps all facets of our people grow as we nurture disciples and grow leaders.
 

“…renewal…”

Renewal is another form of transformation.  From those who are merely weary from the busyness of life, to those who are truly in need of an accepting, healing environment, Glisson offers experiences that are renewing to body, soul and mind.

True engagement of God’s creation requires that we move ourselves from the world of our cars or our houses, even from the cabins and lodges onsite, and into the natural world.  Hiking or walking, swimming, climbing, camping, fishing all move our bodies in ways that strengthen and grow.  As we learn to appreciate and care for God’s creation, we learn that our bodies are also a part of it and deserve the same respect and care that we offer to all of God’s creatures.

This profound understanding of caring for God’s creation extends to our relationships with one another as well.  Creating an emotionally safe environment allows participants to let down their guard, to share openly with one another and to receive feedback from one another.  This type of environment, combined with the absence of the established relational roles back at home, offers an opportunity for participants to make discoveries about themselves and their ways of relating to others that may not happen without the camp environment.

“…be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God…”  This verse from Romans 12:2 connects the way we think about and perceive ourselves and the world around us to the transformation Glisson is about.  It is not enough that we have experiences that are transformative.  Glisson offers participants processing time – a time for discussion and sharing that give the chance for language and thinking to be shaped by what has been experienced.  This full appropriation of the experiences Glisson creates encourages the transformation of the way its participants see the world and think about creation, neighbor and God.
 

“…for all people.”

Camp Glisson, the program and the property and grounds, are a means of God’s grace for thousands of people each year.  As such, Glisson works to make all people feel welcome and loved. 

 

"It was great! It was my first year, and I was very happy that I got to do some amazing activities. I was a little scared on the high elements course, but I did it (and I am glad I did)!"

Emily, 8-year-old camper