Alumni of the New York City Mission Society's Minisink branch celebrated their 90th Anniversary on their former campgrounds at World Olivet Assembly property in Dover Plains, NY on June 22.
Minisink partnered with churches of various denominations in New York City since 1929, especially in Harlem, providing Christian leadership development and recreational activities for children and teens.
The Saturday event featured speakers who participated in Minisink activities throughout its history, but especially from the 1980s when Camp Minisink shifted to the Dover Plains location.
The World Olivet Assembly (WOA) property had formerly been owned by the New York Mission Society, which hosted Camp Minisink each summer. It was sold in 2005 and used as a shooting grounds until the Assembly acquired the land in 2013 for use as the Christian denomination's headquarters.
Dozens of Minisinkers traveled to join the day's activities. WOA mission leaders and volunteers joined. Among those welcoming Miniskink participants were WOA General Secretary Pastor Mark Spisak and Town of Dover Supervisor Linda French. The celebration and service took place on a deck overlooking a lake on the property and included singing of praise songs in between speakers.
A service included remarks from former Minisink Camp officials, including Sharmin Gray, Chairwoman of the 90th Minisink Anniversary Committee.
She said she cherished experiences at the camp, noting there was respect shown among Minisinkers and that participants were "expected to do great things."
"It wasn't an option to fail in Minisink," she said. "You had been given God-given talents ... We are all recognized for various skills and talents. And Minisink was the platform where you would be able to find out or get an idea of what you could do."
She recalled that Minisink participants had opportunities to meet influential people including civil rights leaders, noting that "there was a richness about our leadership and they were on purpose."
She expressed a gratitude for many volunteers over the years who served, often contributing their own funds to allow Minisink and its affiliated organizations to develop.
"We may not know exactly where we are going, in a manner of speaking but when we remember our mission. Which is we are dealing with the souls of God," she said. "We are dealing with the souls and lives of the children of God. That's the bottom line."
Former Minisink Camp Director Raymond Johnson shared about his experiences at the site as a as a child from the city through adulthood, from visits with family, to becoming an instructor, a counselor and eventually to his time leading the camp.
"It's great to be back to see that this property is once again being used to build the Kingdom of God. That's definitely the beauty. It's great to now link that I have family who were staff and directors here at Camp Sharparoon, that I had an opportunity to be here and be a part of the lives and have my life impacted by Camp Minisink and that we are now back here and World Olivet Assembly is continuing that legacy of helping young people, helping people grow closer to God, and grow closer in their relationship in their spirituality. So this is our opportunity to help them leap into the legacy."
Former Executive Director of Minisink Townhouse and Camp Helen Baldwin due to various circumstanceshow Camp Minisink shifted to Dover Plains from another site.
"We said at the time it was a change in site, but not in spirit," she said. "And we brought that 'Ole' Minisink Spirit and moved. I'm not going to tell you that it was easy. It was hard. It was very, very hard."
She said work needed to be done to bring the facilities up to a proper standard and many new things needed to be learned at the new site "but we built on that."
"It was not difficult to bring that spirit because the spirit was here. It just needed to be uplifted."
The former Executive Director of Minisink Townhouse and Camp and Cadet Corps Frank Jones Jr. recalled his experiences at the site, including time teaching other to ski.
"I'm glad to see the continuation of the Christian leadership and development is still moving forward on this property. Let's leap into the legacy," he said.
One of the founding sisters of the Phoenix Sorority of Minisink, Karima Pace, shared about formative experiences in the camp where she learned about public speaking through oratorical contests, took part in leadership training and song songs she teaches to children today.
After her closing remarks, Ms. Gray concluded her speaking opportunity by giving a 'Certificate of Appreciation' from "Friends of the Minisink Experiences, Inc." to 'World Olivet Assembly in deep appreciation of your gracious hospitality and thoughtfulness as we celebrate Minisink's 90th Anniversary."
Participants had lunch at the property's dining hall and toured the property including some of the cabins once used for summer programs.
Christian Post has covered the event in following article: