A Day of Dedication!

 The following a summary of the reflections that Matt Graybill, Executive Director, shared at the dedication of Tall Pines Fellowship Center on August 30, 2019. 

Matt Graybill, PLFC Executive Director

Matt Graybill, Executive Director, shares reflections from the Growing the Pines Capital Campaign journey

Our theme for the weekend is “God is Faithful.”  It’s a fundamental truth about God’s character.  He is faithful.  It is supported numerous times in scripture and expressed through covenants in the Old testament and prophesy of the coming of Jesus Christ.  We see the faith of God’s people as well. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Hebrews 11.  It’s commonly known as the “heroes of faith” chapter.  By faith Abraham… By faith Noah, and so on.

When I reflect on the reason why we’re here in Tall Pines this morning, it’s to celebrate God’s faithfulness.  Not just because we have this new facility.  It’s because there is a place like Pine Lake.

Expanding on that chapter of Hebrew, I decided to reflect on the “heros” of camp.

Pine Lake minutes

Hand written minutes from the first meeting of what would develop into Pine Lake Fellowship Camp

  • By faith a group of people met to talk about starting a camp in Nov. 1965
  • By faith, the funds were put up to by 74 acres and three horses
  • By faith, Family Camp started in 1967
  • By faith, the Lodge was dreamed and constructed and changed the trajectory of Pine Lake. That facility is nearing 20 years old.
  • By faith, many people have come into relationship with Jesus Christ.

And by faith, in the fall of 2008, Pine Lake launched the “Growing the Pines, Building the Future” capital campaign.  If you were at Camp Sale in 2008, you may remember watching the appeal video for the first time.  This campaign vision was to expand ministry capacity and construct a new facility, Tall Pines Fellowship Center, to meet the needs of the PLFC Association and other churches in the southeast region.  The vision was clear, but there were still questions:  1. Can we (Pine Lake) raise that much?  2. Where will the money come from? 3. Would camp be able to meet its operating expenses? 4. Would other fundraisers suffer?  5. Will this ever be accomplished?

Over the last 10+ years, God has provided answers to each of these questions!

  1. Funding is complete and $459,000 has been raised, which meets our campaign goal.
  2. The money has come from many faithful donors, organizations, and PLFC budget surpluses.
  3. Pine Lake has met and increased its budget each year of the campaign with no shortfalls (42% increase since 2009)
  4. PLFC has added fundraisers like the 5K Trail Run & and experienced increases in existing events like Camp Sale
  5. Construction will soon be completed.

By faith this all happened.  He is faithful.

Timeline of Construction:

  • 2008 – Kickoff of campaign resulting from 2-3 years of long-range assessment and planning the goals is to raise $80,000 for site prep, foundation, & steel shell construction
  • Spring/Summer 2011 – Foundation prepared, slab poured, and steel shell erected
  • Spring 2012 – Phase II – Framing on Lodging end begins
  • 2013 – Plumbing, electric, insulation, and drywall installed in the Spring.
  • January 2014 – Volunteers from ON serve for two weeks and finish the first floor lodging for our First guest group to reside there (Midway Baptist Church Youth Group)
  • Spring 2015 – Framing on kitchen/office end begins
  • Good Friday 2016 – First guest group stays in top floor lodging end (Amor Viviente Church Retreat)
  • 2017 – Framing and rough finish on North and South walls of the Meeting/Gym are completed.
  • May 2018 – PLFC Staff move into new office space!
  • Summer Camp 2019 – Meeting area AC installed & 2 BR apartment ready for occupancy (Suzanne resided there for the summer)
  • Week before Labor Day 2019 – Kitchen installation & set up!
  • To Come: Meeting/Dining area to be finished & Kitchen appliances installed

A few of many Work Teams & Folks who helped!–  Diener Construction, Dale Kanagy, Duane Maust, Amor Viviente, Cliff Maust, Members of Des Allemands Mennonite, Jubilee Youth Group, Jubilee Camp out, Glen & Pat Detwiler, Cal & Shirley Hostetler, Bob Wideman & Co., James & Rachel Metzler, Wayne & Polly Comardelle, Two groups from Ontario who framed, 8th St. Mennonite, & so so many others.

A Vision Realized.

For so long, we only imagined what a finished facility would be able to accomplish for his Kingdom.  And because of God’s faithfulness, we’re on the cusp of completing this capital campaign project.  It’s can be easy to look back over the course of 11 years of this endeavor and forget all the effort involved.   There were intense times of decisions and construction (periods of lamenting), followed by of delays in raising funds, and then those steps repeated.   But through it, we see God’s hand in providing people to fund not only this project, but annual operations God provided skilled labor and volunteers to work on the building, as well as many others who prayed, consulted, advised, encouraged, and fed others.

From the outside, this is only a building, but it’s what happens on the inside that counts.  The shared mission of reconciliation to God, His creation, & one another is the heartbeat of Pine Lake. It unites Association members, charter churches, campers, thousands of guests, staff, & volunteers in prayer, corporate worship, community, Christian service, and celebration.

And so we celebrate together and dedicate this gift to be used for His glory! Amen!

FAMILY CAMP (Homecoming)

Family Camp weekend is Pine Lake’s annual homecoming event. Some folks come to spend time with their nuclear family, some to connect with the family of God. Either way, this weekend is all about relationships! Whether this is your first time to camp or you’ve been to Pine Lake a thousand times, Family Camp is a great weekend to rest in God’s creation, be nourished in your faith, and have fun with others! Activities abound for the adventurers, while those more keen on lounging and chatting have a wide array of scenic seating to choose from!  Buckle up for a wonderful weekend as we draw nearer to God, nature & one another.


Please contact or 601-483-2267 to reserve lodging.

Coming for the day?

Meals are provided by volunteers from PLFC Charter Churches.

If you’re interested in helping provide or serve food, contact


Room with AC: $60/night

Tall Pines Apartment: $90/night

Cabin: $10/person/night ($40 max/family/night)

Suggested donation of $5/person/day



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Family Camp: “Celebrating 50 Years”

Family Camp 2016 marked a milestone in the history of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp’s ministry.  The weekend was centered around the sessions & activities, but there were many opportunities for people to share with one another about how God is currently working in their lives.   The communal feeling is a huge part of the weekend.  Over 200 people spent time at PLFC to help celebrate!  Whether it was your first or 30th time at Family Camp, your presence at PLFC was welcomed.Praying over Pine Lake

The Legacy Panel was one highlight.  Titus Bender, founding visionary of PLFC, & others took part in a panel where they shared from their hearts about the early years, development, & other struggles of camp.  Audience members took part in asking questions & sharing about their experiences.   Panelists included: Titus Bender, Glenn Myers, Gerald Beadle, Shawn Beadle, & Jeff Landis.  The discussion was moderated by Duane Maust.

“The mission of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp is to draw people of all ages and of diverse backgrounds into renewal of Spirit, body, & soul and into reconciliation with God, creation, & each other.”

Our theme for the weekend was “Celebrating 50 Years of Renewal & Reconciliation.”  Glenn Myers shared a message on the subject of renewal at our Saturday morning session.  Butch Clay shared a message on reconciliation on Sunday.  What a weekend it was to celebrate the faithfulness of God’s people!  People who heard His calling and chose to follow Him in what would become Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.  It also demanded many others to join the vision in each of the following 50 years.  Countless times, it was mentioned how PLFC has developed into something beyond what was comprehended in the late 1960’s.  Perhaps the highlight for the early generations was to see so many young people at Family Camp, knowing that the future ministry of Pine Lake is in good hands for the coming generations.

And so it is that we pray for each person who comes to camp. We pray that he/she will  meet God & grow in his/her faith for years to come. May God continue to bless Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.

“Father, be with us. Draw us to thee. Kindle each spirit and make it a lamp to glow in thy glory, radiant for thee at Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.” –Gladys Rutt, 1982

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped make the weekend a huge success.  From providing meals to helping with the zip line, you played an integral part! Thank you!

Enjoy some of the sound-bytes from the weekend:

Celebrating a Vision

Pine Lake


Several summers ago, an older gentleman arrived to drop his granddaughter for a week of summer camp. He followed behind her as she passed through the registration line like she had done it several times and excitedly ran off to join her counselor and cabin. Later, I noticed him sitting on the picnic table, gazing over the ball field. I wrapped up a few things at the registration table and went over to speak with him. Not knowing his connection to camp, I greeted and asked, “Sooo, how did you find out about camp?” It’s a common question I ask when meeting people at camp, but I wasn‘t ready for his response.

Bender Family observe Pine Lake in the early days.

Bender Family observe Pine Lake in the early days.

He looked at me over his glasses and began to tell me about the early days when there was nothing here but a lake and a house. He spoke about when he was with several people who hiked around what would become Pine Lake Fellowship Camp; at the time there were only pine trees to be seen. But as they walked, one gentleman shared his vision of “building a cabin here and another cabin here; a large gathering area down here.” On and on they walked and more vision was cast. How great it would have been to be in that group walking around this place? I can only imagine what this man, sitting on a picnic table years later must have been thinking as he gazed over the lake.

I imagine he was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the beginning of camp. Thankful to see how God has developed Pine Lake to be a place for those to draw closer to Him. I imagine he was overjoyed that his granddaughter was receiving this experience decades after he was walking through a blank canvas.

Of course, this place could have remained a blank canvas used only for hunting and fishing if it were not for the vision of camp with the purpose of reconciliation that took root in several people. Through discussion, prayer, & discernment, others caught the same vision for a little tract of land that would be a place of retreat, reconciliation, & transformation for generations to follow.

Pine Lake minutes

Over 50 years old: Hand written minutes from the first meeting on November 20, 1965 of what would become Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.

On November 20, 1965, “a group of eight persons interested in the development of a church camp near Meridian, Mississippi, met to discuss plans. Those present were Nevin & Esther Bender, Glenn & Emma Myers, Titus & Ann Bender, Ann Zimmerly, & Mildred Bender. The purpose is to provide and promote Christian fellowship and recreation (from the meeting minutes). At that meeting, a vision was sparked into life that would paint a picture which continues to add brush strokes year after year.


That exploratory meeting could not have happened, but they were faithful with the vision laid on hearts. Today, we’re grateful for all those who were at the exploratory meeting on November 20, 1965, and many others individuals and churches who jumped on board to support taking steps of faith in the development of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.

Praise the Lord for those who allowed His spirit to lead them in starting this ministry 50 years ago. Please celebrate Pine Lake Fellowship Camp with us as we enter our semi centenary in 2016. Join us for a celebration of God’s faithfulness on Labor Day weekend, September 2-5, 2016!

Written by Matt Graybill, Executive Director of Pine Lake Fellowship Camp.