Sunday, June 18, 2006

Notes From My Knapsack 6-25-06
Jeff Gill

Day Camp Takes All Year

Cub Scout Day Camp for Licking District Cub Scouts has ended, and the older Boy Scout troops are now going week by week out to Camp Falling Rock, out Rocky Fork way a couple miles past Hickman on Rt. 79.
Before we forget, and the carved bars of soap, birdhouses, and stamped leather crafts are put to work or put away around the house, it is time for a huge "Thank You!"
Our district Cub Day Camp is so popular, in fact, that the thanks have to come from Franklin, Fairfield, Perry, and Muskingum Counties. From June 13 to June 17, a total of 321 young boys from six to ten years old, 46 siblings who had parents that were among the 242 adults assisting with the twenty stations and four days (five for the older, or Webelos Scouts) of "Scouter Space" adventures, the theme for 2006 Cub Day Camp.
Ric and Angela Eader of Pataskala returned as directors, and were honored at the closing program by Jeff Schiavone, Licking District executive for the Simon Kenton Council, our wider Scouting structure in central Ohio. Over 600 crowded into the Waterfalls Amphitheater at Camp Falling Rock and gave a standing ovation to the leaders who made this amazing week possible.
For doing a program area, usually repeated twenty times in four days for groups of twelve to twenty-two, the Eaders note that they can’t be everywhere, so they needed these folks: A.J. Hildreth, Debbie Neighbarger, Brad Barborak, Amy Ybarra, Ruth Herbert, John Cash, Aaron Kirkingburg, Dave Addis, Jim Coley, Rick Ives, Randall Farley, Martie Slate, Jeff Chapman, Anne Arnold, Lisa Crum, Joe Bush, Harold Mason, health officer Russell Sparks and his wife Rebecca, and Lori Harvey, plus eight boys from Troop 141, and the staff of CFR who ran the pool.
That’s just to run the program.
Then you needed at least twenty adults who were committed to being there all four program days as day camp den leaders, plus dozens more "den walkers" who were parents who came a day or two as they could, and climbed Cardiac Hill as they could, or couldn’t.
We’re trying to get the name changed to the more optomistic "Cardio Hill," since your cardiovascular health is certainly helped by two or three trips up that slope each day!
For the den leaders who knew how to find the Foxfire Trail (hi Stephanie! Thanks Al!) and all the rest, the week really couldn’t happen without you.
Many youth serving programs have been having a rough time, with the press of so many competing options and the lure of the dancing blue fire in our air conditioned caves. I know many of you rejoice with me that close to 400 kids got dirty, got out in the sun (yes, SPF 40 was slathered in abundance), and got away from electronic almost everything, at least until they got home hungry, tired, and maybe a bit more thankful for their homes in the evenings.
And if we did our part right, they were ready for bed, too, for which I know their parents were thankful. Enjoy these longest days of the year this week, and get out and find a blister on a trail somewhere.
If you’re not sure what to do or where you’re going in the out-of-doors, ask your local Cub Scout. They have a pretty good idea of what’s going on out under the trees and stars.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he’s also a proud Cub Scout leader (like you couldn’t tell), so send him your tales of the trail at
Faith Works 6-24-06
Jeff Gill

Joseph Smith a Prophet for Some
(a problem for others!)

162 years ago this week, Joseph Smith, Jr. was martyred for his faith in Carthage, Illinois.
Yes, this is the man who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, popularly known as "Mormons" and which we’ll call the LDS church.
Members prefer "Latter Day Saints" as a label, and have tried to focus popular attention to the prominence of Jesus Christ in their long-official full name. They use the King James Version of the Bible common to Christian denominations of all sorts, and a tour of one of their many temples around the world will feature Jesus’ story, albeit through the lens of the "Book of Mormon," an 1830 text which many believe Smith wrote himself but which the LDS Church holds as inspired scripture, including Jesus appearing in this hemisphere as part of his resurrected ministry.
So is the LDS Church a Christian denomination? A few of you noted I side-stepped the question in our brisk review of Christendom a few weeks back.
I had intended to write something about the LDSers and the Prophet Joseph closer to June 27, when he died in 1844, but there was a nod to the influence Smith’s movement had on the American frontier. . . and read on to see a key local connection with their own 175th anniversary this year.
The nod was in my discussion of the "Restoration Movement," usually associated with Barton Stone, Cane Ridge revivals in 1801, and Alexander Campbell. Less well known is that Joseph Smith is known among LDS and related groups (like the RLDS, now called the "Community of Christ"), as a "restorationist leader" with an original agenda of restoring the ancient order of things.
In fact, the parallels (or borrowings, hard to trace) are so strong that many of the early Stone-Campbell restorationist pastors jumped denominational boundaries a second time, saying Campbell in particular did not go far enough. They accepted the "Book of Mormon" as a tool for recovering the simplicity of the early Christian church, especially in northeast Ohio. There the Western Reserve district became a powerful center for Smith’s movement to build from, where the first Mormon temple was built and still stands (operated by the RLDS group) in Kirtland outside Cleveland.
Financial setbacks, including a fair amount of imprudence and illegality around founding a bank for common life in the Kirtland community, spurred a migration first to Missouri, where they faced harsh and violent persecution, and then to the Mississippi banks of Nauvoo, Illinois, where after a peaceful respite their Christian neighbors saw them with first alarm, and then anger. Threatened by both overwhelming growth and odd practices like polygamy, the civil authorities were manipulated and finally trumped by a lynch mob, which stormed the small courthouse and jail in Carthage where Joseph Smith, Jr. met his end at the age of 39.
Smith died for his beliefs. That much is clear. But was he a Christian? He would have said yes, but his additions and even corrections to Christian teachings have left many others saying no. Groups as diverse as the Catholic and Methodist churches require rebaptism of LDS members who convert, saying that the peculiarities of Mormon teachings clearly leave their baptism outside of any definition of Christian orthodoxy, such as the nature of God having once been a physical, human person, and that human persons will become gods themselves in the "celestial kingdom."
Beyond argument is that 12 million claim LDS Church membership, and their local churches, or "stakes" help to support the center stake of the tent of Zion in Salt Lake City, Utah today. Their vision of lay leadership through locally ordained overseers, or bishops is one approximation of what the Restorationist Movement intended in 1830.
And here in Licking County we all owe this much to that movement: Baptists, who lost a number of Western Reserve congregations to first the Reformed Baptists of Campbell (later Disciples of Christ) and to the early Latter Day Saints, decided in 1830 they needed to train their clergy and lay leaders better.
So in 1831 they founded a college to do just that, the Granville Theological and Literary Institution. As Denison University today, they celebrate their 175th anniversary in Granville this fall!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him a tale at