The Diakonos announced at the start of Tuesday’s gathering of the 2019 Annual Conference Session that they would be donating a significant part of the offering they received at the Session to support the camp ministries in the Iowa Annual Conference.

Diakonos pay their own way to attend and serve each year at the Annual Conference Session, and the collection taken to benefit them helps to offset costs.

The Diakonos announcement to divert some of their funds to the camps ministry followed the vote Monday by Annual Session attendees to sell Pictured Rocks United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center near Monticello due to budget issues. The vote came after impassioned debate from the floor over the Pictured Rocks’ fate.

Diakonos Paige Weesner requested a point of personal privilege from the floor of the session Tuesday along with the rest of the Diakonos, who stood behind her at the microphone. 

The overwhelming majority of this year’s Diakonos had been blessed to attend United Methodist camps, she told the Annual Conference Session, prompting the group to direct a portion of the funds donated to them to the camps.

“We wanted to thank all of you for your generous offering Monday morning,” Weesner said. “I am happy to say that we will be giving 15% or roughly 1,000 dollars of our offerings to the camp mission and church retreat fund.” 

“To my Diakonos standing behind me will you please raise your hand if you have ever been to church camp?” she asked. “Thirty out of our 32 Diakonos have been to a church camp.” 

Weesner shared how the evening prior the Diakonos were talking about their donation and also talked about how camp was a huge part of their lives and faith walk. 

“Church camps are where some of us were first shown the never ending love of God,” she said, “where we accepted Jesus into our hearts.” 

“Our first Christ-centered relationships were formed at camp,” Weesner continued, “and now look at us as we stand before you helping to serve our Methodist conference.” 

“We have formed more connections with fellow Christian youth and leaders than we ever thought possible 10 years ago,” she added. “We wanted this money to go back into what sparked our love for God all those years ago and what has brought us to this place in our lives today.” 

“We pray that this money will help to show and share with the children of the next generation the undying love of Jesus Christ and spark a light within them,” Weesner said. “Thank you.”