QUINCY -- Salem United Church of Christ pastor Matt Hunt chose to share with his Sunday congregation the parable of the sower.
In the parable, a farmer scatters seeds, and only the seeds that fall on good soil produce a crop. That story, Hunt said, could be applied to the Ursa Retreat House.
"The Retreat House has been the seed for many people," he said. "So many have grown in God on its soil."
The Retreat House, owned by 16 area member churches, is seeking $50,000 to construct a new bunkhouse, demolish the craft building and convert an existing bunkhouse into a new craft building. The new bunkhouse will be built with a basement that acts as a storm shelter, which is something the Retreat House didn't have before.
Salem Church is spearheading two fundraisers to help raise money for the retreat's new bunkhouse, and three generations of Retreat House campers shared Sunday their favorite memories of attending the retreat.
Memories ranged from funny stories to awe at growing closer to God with others at a beautiful setting.
"Mother and I decided to make gingerbread for (campgoers from St. Louis)," Sylvia Baxter recalled with a laugh. "Can you imagine feeding gingerbread to youth? We took it and fed it to the neighbor's hogs."
Barb Edwards told parishioners her favorite things to do at the retreat were to go sledding and ice skating then have hot chocolate by the fireplace while playing games like spoons. Her daughter, Katie, shared how she loved getting ready with other girls for the retreat's talent shows and dances.
"I loved it (the retreat) as a child, and I love it now as an adult," Barb Edwards said. "Morning watch, where you did your individual devotions in the morning, was an awesome time for those who remember doing it. I always tried to get to morning watch early so I could sit on the porch swing and look at the pond."
Katie Edwards added: "You could meet other people in the area and see how Christ grew and is still growing in them."
Baxter summed up each person's overall sentiment about attending camp at the Retreat House.
"It's about fun, fellowship, spiritual growth, learning and just getting away from the business of our lives," she said.
Many in the crowd at church nodded in agreement or laughed with the ladies while they shared their favorite memories.
"As a minister now, I look for opportunities to help people grow in the Lord, and camp is one of those ways," Hunt said. "Our church loves the Retreat House. The board of directors is so behind the Retreat House that they will match up $5,000 for whatever we donate. We're hoping we can raise as much money as we can for this."
Sack lunches, costing $10, and engraved bricks, costing $50, are being sold to raise funds.
Lunches will include the choice of chicken or ham salad sandwiches, chips, carrot or celery sticks, a drink and homemade dessert. Bricks will include three lines of text with 13 characters on each line.
"With these delicious sack lunches, you can pick them up and enjoy them at any time during the day," Hunt said, adding that the deadline to order a lunch is July 20. The bricks will be assembled around the retreat's flagpole.
Anyone interested in contributing to either fundraiser can call 217-222-0601 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.