PanFork Camp geared to grow
By George Henson
WELLINGTON—PanFork Baptist Camp is working hard to prepare for growth in both the camp and the kingdom of God.
Recognizing that many people make eternal decisions during a week of camp, both prongs of their new approaches are aimed at making the camp more accessible to more people.
One facet of providing for more campers is construction of a worship center that will seat about 200 people.
“It gives our camp more versatility,” explained Richard Laverty, pastor of First Baptist Church in Perryton. He said the worship center makes the camp a fitting site for small conferences that might be swallowed up in the camp’s larger tabernacle. It also enables the encampment to hold simultaneous camps for two groups, such as Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors.
The new chapel can trace its genesis to when Gem Baptist Church disbanded and gave the camp its building, said Jes Stafford, pastor of Eleventh Street Baptist Church in Shamrock.
Initially, encampment leaders considered moving the church building to the camp’s property, but that was not economically feasible.
“While we were looking at the possibilities, it did open our eyes to what we might be able to accomplish with a building like that to give us a second, smaller worship center,” Stafford said.
Everything possible was salvaged from the church and employed in building the chapel, including the steeple. In the church’s honor, the new building will be called Gem Chapel.
While the inspiration for the building was there, the money wasn’t, Camp Director Jay Hammond acknowledged.
“We built it because we felt like it was the Lord’s leading,” he said. “It’s really been built on faith. We didn’t have the money to finish it when we started it, but God has provided for us all along the way.”
When a local bank offered the camp a $50,000 line of credit for the project, Hammond said he was loathe to take it, but did as a safety net. So far, however, it hasn’t been needed.
“It’s something the Lord has done, and we give him all the glory for it,” Stafford said.
About $25,000 still is to be raised to finish paying for the building, but Hammond remains certain the funds will come in.
He is quick to add, however, that the only reason the amount outstanding is so small is due to the efforts of Texas Baptist Men construction groups. Construction teams spent eight weeks on the building, with some individuals spending even more time, effectively cutting the cost of the building almost in half, Hammond said.
Ken Shaffer, a member of Eleventh Street, was one of the leaders of the TBM construction crew. While he works on camps across the state, the 5,000-square-foot building at PanFork was special to him. “That’s where all three of my boys were saved,” he explained.
A dedication service will be May 5 in conjunction with the beginning of Adult Camp.
With more space, the camp also is starting a “Kids to Camp” scholarship program, Stafford said. “We’re just not sending enough lost kids to camp,” he noted. “Some churches are able to provide scholarships, but some of the smaller churches just can’t afford it. Maybe these scholarships will help to get to camp some of the kids we’ve been missing.”
Hammond echoed the need to get children to camp. “Recognizing the effectiveness of the camp experience, we want every lost kid possible at camp, and we’re trying every way possible to get them there.”
Donors to the scholarship fund can contact Hammond at (806) 447-2627.