In 1937, Camp Ascension was formed to meet a need by the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas. Leaders felt that inner-city youth needed a space to unwind from busy city life and to have a better connection to God.
Camp Ascension, located in Toronto, KS, had a great run for more than 70 years before closing its doors due to poor facility conditions. During that time, thousands of youth had come to Christ at the camp, and learned how to cultivate their personal relationships with God. Many adults found their calling during the camps summer retreats; and the hurt of heart found love under the majestic night sky.
The camp remains a ministry of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas, says Dr. T. Lamont Holder, President.
In April 2017, 13 church members who are affiliated with the Kaw Valley District Association of the Missionary Baptist State Convention of Kansas formed “PULSE,” People United to Love, Support, and Embrace Camp Ascension. Their goal was to raise the money needed to renovate and reopen the camp.
These members answered the call of Nehemiah 2:17-18; “Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.”
Through their great efforts and particularly through the donation of two $100,000 grants from the Sunderland Foundation, renovation work is underway on the camp. The donation will be used to help renovate the camp’s five buildings: a chapel, administration building, recreation building, and boys and girls dorms.
PULSE also thanks local entrepreneur Thalia Cherry and Cynthia Smith, COE and President of Tacyna Ventures, Inc., for their pro bono work helping the group secure the grants. Kansas City’s BPU donated materials, equipment, time and labor, installed poles, upgraded the camp’s electrical components and has committed to installing new water lines.
Support also continues to come from the churches of the state convention, pastors, ministries and individuals.
When reopened next year, the camp will continue to hold their annual six summer-retreats: Golden Age Camp for seniors, Sunbeam Camp for ages 3 – 9, Junior Camp for youth 9 – 12, Senior Camp for youth 13 – 18, Matrons Retreat for young adults 18 to 35, and the Missionary Workers Retreat for all ages. Each program will run for five days, Mon. – Fri., with the exception of the missionary’s retreat, which is a weekend getaway from Fri. to Sun.
The original PULSE members are Joyce Battle, Felicia Coleman, Vita Drew, Minister Diane Elliott, Carolyn Gayden, Phyllis Gipson, Minister Herbert Harris, Pastor Darrell Heard, Alberta Johnson, Loretta Shields, Norma Nelson, Joanne Patton, and Davida Turner.
The members represent the following Kaw Valley churches: Forest Grove Baptist Church, Bethel Baptist Church of KCK, Metropolitan Baptist Church of KCK, First Baptist Church of Quindaro, Antioch Baptist Church, and Eight Street Baptist Church.