The Voice is a weekly news program produced by our Saddleback interns and volunteers.
This week's feature looks at Saddleback's first ever Summer Skills Camp. This program provides a positive learning environment for kids in grades 1-6. Offered at our Lake Forest campus, Summer Skills Camp is helping to fill the void of summer school programs due to budget cutbacks in our local school districts
Married couples held hands or walked arm in arm, smiling, as they left the Worship Center last weekend, June 26-27 after Saddleback Church provided them the opportunity to reaffirm their marriage vows at the end of each service.
Pastor Rick began by telling the group, consisting of at least 30 percent single individuals, “Marriage is God’s idea, for his glory.” He continued, saying, “Marriage is a spiritual object lesson … an illustration of Christ’s relationship with the church …it is the foundation of civilization.” Pastor Rick concluded, “Marriage is a laboratory for learning to love. It is a testing ground for learning our purpose: loving God and others … life is about love … you need to learn how to give up yourself for another person. Love is a choice, a commitment.”
Then Pastor Rick and Kay, his wife of 35 years, renewed their marriage vows before all who attended. Standing before the congregation, Pastor Rick and Kay offered tributes to one another, reaffirming their commitment to one another, their unconditional love and their mutual appreciation.
Next he invited those couples who wished to reaffirm their marriage vows to stand and face each other, holding hands. First Pastor Rick led the husbands in their vows and then Kay led the wives, each reading a line and waiting as the congregants repeated them.
As much an affirmation of the significance of marriage in God’s plan for humanity, the vow renewals reflected Saddleback’s commitment to caring about relationships and going deeper into what it means to be obedient to God’s word.
“A volunteer walked up to me after digging holes for donated plants all morning. He was dripping with sweat, leaning heavily against his shovel; his hands were caked with dirt. ‘What can I do now?’ he asked me.” Volunteer Coordinator Janna Roberts paused to reflect and rejoice in such moments, which have punctuated volunteer efforts every weekend.
“They just seem to want to do more!”
On the morning of Saturday, June 19, 62 volunteers arrived to dedicate their time and efforts to working at Rancho Capistrano. “They came with smiles on their faces, and joy in their hearts, serving the Lord,” Janna recounted. Laboring from 8:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., they worked in teams to plant shrubs at the entrance, jackhammer a concrete pad needing removal, and climb ladders to clean dirt from lampposts throughout the Ranch.
“So many people have stepped up to be a part of this project, wanting to get their hands dirty,” Janna said. “To date, the tasks have involved landscaping removal and re-planting, curb painting, plumbing, shower caulking and other maintenance jobs — and that’s just the beginning.”
“Sometimes we wonder if we will be able to keep up with the enthusiasm and numbers of volunteers. We plan a project and then sometimes the supplies don’t arrive on time and we have to quickly come up with something else. But God is in control, he provides. We just need to be flexible and surrendered to him. It’s all worked out.” Janna said.
“Volunteers who work here seem to notice things that are needed.” Janna explained, her gratitude evident. “For example, someone noticed that we needed shower hardware in the 50 lakeside rooms, and donated it. Last weekend, someone noticed that it would be nice to have a fountain at the entrance and asked, ‘how about a fountain? I can get that for you.’ The commitment of the volunteers has been amazing. There is even a ‘watering team’ who comes here to water every day, by hand!”
Thrilled with their experiences at the Ranch, one volunteer family with two teenaged sons worked all morning with shovels and picks to loosen the hard ground. “We were tired; it was hard work … it was GREAT!” They plan to return often, as a “father and son project, serving the Lord.”
More weekend teams are planned in the near future, “We are thinking about offering weekday opportunities for people who have to work on the weekends and haven’t been able to be involved,” Janna concluded.
To learn more or volunteer, please contact Maudi Kolster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past few months, Pastor Rick has laid out how God gently, securely placed Rancho Capistrano into Saddleback Church’s stewardship. Since then, God has touched people’s hearts,and more than 1,200 volunteers signed up to assist with repair and landscaping to beautify this gift.
Ranch Capistrano is now bustling with volunteers. The first week of June, 49 volunteers painted, made minor repairs, and replanted shrubs. The next weekend, 43 more Saddleback volunteers joyfully labored for an entire Saturday morning to prepare the soil for planting. Members have provided donations in equally amazing ways, providing 80 shower heads of exactly the right type, 89 head boards—enough for each guestroom, 93 armoires, money at just the right time, and thousands of plants.
Maudi Kolster orchestrates the volunteer effort. “I am very excited to see the way that Saddleback volunteers have stepped forward to make the needed improvements in the property,” she noted.
Rancho Capistrano, located at 29251 Camino Capistrano in San Juan Capistrano, is fondly referred to as“The Ranch.” The 170-acre property includes a Retreat Center located on a landscape of rolling hills, towering mature trees, chattering birds, lake side conference rooms, and a peaceful dining room. Geese and their fluffy gosling paddle on a lake that ripples in each breath of wind. Guest rooms surround a sprawling courtyard; offices, classrooms and quiet places to reflect share the grounds with a church, soccer fields and a wedding chapel.
A piece of the history of San Juan Capistrano, the hacienda nestles under the trees and amid lush landscape. A blend of breathtaking Spanish architecture and tile, its beams are etched withdesign, the floor is restored pecan plank, the verandas are deep, the lawnsgroomed to perfection.
Future plans for this beautiful property include a variety of ways Saddleback Church will be able to serve the community and reach the world with God’s love, such as overnight retreats, weddings, expanded pastoral training, church planting and supporting the PEACE initiatives.
“Rancho Capistrano will allow Saddleback Church to fulfill our vision to establish an overnight retreat center for personal renewal, group fellowship, life planning, and living for the glory of God,” Pastor Rick said. “It will also provide a spectacular venue for our church and the San Juan Capistrano community.”
Contact email@example.com to learn more or to volunteer.