This weekend at church, I was struck in a new way by what a special place Camp Gilead is. The pastor talked about the first-century church described in the book of Acts 2. The Bible describes the early believers as “devoted to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer,” and says that they lived together, shared with each other and with those in need, and ate together often. The pastor pointed out that these healthy, positive features of the church were both causes and results of the believers’ strong relationships with each other and the Holy Spirit.

My sister lamented the fact that none of the churches she has attended actually practice much of that. As she said, they’re often “sit-and-get” places, where you simply walk in, sit down, listen to a sermon, and leave. You can belong to a church and attend it regularly without actually having a relationship with anyone there.

As I listened to that, I thought about my past summers at Gilead. This special place, filled with the special people whom God has chosen to bring here, is the closest thing to the early church that I’ve experienced. At Program Staff Training this last week at Gilead, we seven program staff spent almost our time together: we served the meals together, ate together, did the dishes together, planned for the summer together, worked on projects together, prayed together, went on some adventures together, and all roomed within about a few hundred feet of each other. Though some of us were strangers to each other when we arrived on Tuesday, we quickly built relationships and strengthened them throughout the week. We began to create the strong bonds that will carry us through the summer. And when the rest of the staff arrive soon, I know that they will do the same; as we all learn, work, and live together over the next eight weeks, and as our relationships strengthen and deepen, by the grace of God, we’ll embody the spirit of the early church.
 
Ali Williams
Assistant Cook/Program Staff