I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. … You are the God who works wonders: you have made known your might among the peoples. Psalm 77:11-14
Throughout its storied history, St. Christopher has survived many challenges that have shaken its financial viability.
A polio epidemic, multiple hurricanes, World War II, economic recessions and mold have all had their turn of impacting the ministry of St. Christopher.
Soon after its creation in 1938, a polio epidemic shut down the 1939 summer camp program. The very next year in 1940 a hurricane laid waste to many newly created structures including the original Chapel of the Palms. During the years of World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard took possession of Seabrook Island for military use, and forced the relocation of a summer camp program to Burnt Gin State Park near Sumter. In 2008, the discovery of debilitating mold caused the closure of half of the lodge buildings, precipitating numerous cancelations of groups that could no longer be hosted, on top of an economic recession that had already reduced the utilization of our Barrier Island ministry. In the consecutive years of 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, hurricanes and floods caused multiple week-long closures that severely impacted the bottom line. With all of these challenges, none however compare with the present impact of COVID-19.
We are in unprecedented times. St. Christopher, as a ministry of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, has remained operational based on its ability to raise the capital needed to support its staff, facilities, and programs. Without the ability to host any guests we have no income means, thus we have no means of continuing support for any of our needs, the most critical being our 38 continuing employees, already reduced from a normal level of 50.
Since March 16, all remaining staff of St. Christopher have been working at a 25% reduction in pay. That reduction will remain until April 12, at which time many will face dismissal, indefinite furlough, or reduction by an additional 25%. Some staff, including myself and all other resident staff, will continue to work at no compensation. While I am heartened by the news that the recently signed CARES Act may well provide some relief for church employees and this ministry, the only guaranteed source of continuing financial resources are your gifts.
This ministry needs your financial support and prayers now more than ever. I do not want to dismiss any employee. For those that will be dismissed, I do not want to do so without at least some protection for continued health care coverage for some period of time. With all of the challenges before us, I have assured my employees that they are my priority. Please give generously now to help make that possible. When the time comes to reopen St. Christopher for the use and enjoyment of all of you, the staff will be needed then more than ever.
This ministry serves God’s purposes. Our history clearly helps us remember God’s faithfulness in a legacy of resilience. By His grace, and with your help, we will survive and flourish yet again. Of that, I am confident.
In His Mercy,