News Archives

KOINONIA GOOD NEWS: ELCA MIF LOAN RECEIVED. REPAIRS BEGUN

June 20, 2020

  1. LOAN APPLICATION APPROVED!  The Mission Investment Fund (mif.elca.org) has approved Koinonia for a loan of up to $300,000.  (The Corporation meeting February 9, 2020, gave the Transition Board of Directors permission to borrow up to $500,000.) MIF is a ministry of our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran in America.  We are receiving this loan because our regional adjudicatory, the Metropolitan New York Synod (MNYS) via the Synod Council, agreed to guarantee the first two years of interest only payments.  The 5-year adjustable rate is currently 4.375%.  Amortization is scheduled over 25 years and will commence two years after closing.  Koinonia will pay interest only on the amount of the loan that it draws down in the first 2 years.  We give thanks to God, and to regional and national leaders!

  2. ALL BUILDINGS CLEARED OF MOLD.  Dennis Catalano, the NYS Mold assessor completed his clearance testing the second week of July and has sent certification papers that all the buildings are free of mold. 

  3. REPAIRS HAVE BEGUN.  Professionals installed insulation.  This third week of July a sheet rocker began work in the Conference Center (CC).  In past weeks, sheet rock and other repairs were made at the Asdahl House.  Volunteers are completing minor plumbing repairs at the CC. 

  4. MOLD PREVENTION IS UNDERWAY.  Measures taken include the installation of commercial dehumidifiers, repairs to gutters and drainage systems, and the pricing of a new HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system for the CC.  These and other preventive expenditures will protect our buildings and add comfort to guests.

  5. INSURANCE.  Koinonia has excellent liability and umbrella policies with Church Mutual.  Of the three levels of coverage – basic, broad, special – Koinonia has “special.”  Included is commercial auto, Directors and Officers Liability, and workers compensation.  The annual cost is $26,983.  Going down a lengthy list of questions with our agent, almost everything is covered – hikers, lake users, volunteers using power tools.  Buildings not covered until repairs are made are the Two-Family, Caritas house and the maintenance building.  Our insurance underwriter is furnishing a list of necessary repairs.  A small building (the “Registration Center”) at the entrance to the campground needs to be demolished.

  6. SAFETY ISSUES.  Recently a Transition Board member surveyed fire, water and other safety issues around the Camp.  We are working with the commercial fire company used by Koinonia and with a representative of the NYS Department of Health & the Building Department to assess what needs to be done.

  7. A VISION FOR THE FUTURE IS IN PROCESS.  Dr. Matt D. O’Rear, an administrative officer at Wartburg Seminary and a church-wide recognized leader, is guiding the Transition Board through a process of visioning the future of Koinonia.  As a board we have looked at things that Koinonia does best and things that we individually imagine for the future.  Our visioning is taking shape around four keys words: evangelical, diverse, collaborative and responsible.

  8. FUNDRAISING RISES TO THE TOP.  Fundraising is still in the “quiet phase.”  The Transition Board approved a $500,000 campaign in May and is now considering proposals from three fundraising companies.  Fundraising will begin in earnest as we articulate our vision 

  9. THANK YOU FOR YOUR GIFTS!!!  While mission, vision and fundraising are taking shape, you have been so generous!  You are remarkable.  The Transition Board, the Management Team and so many others individually give thanks to God for your financial gifts.  From January 1 to July 16 you have sent gifts and pledges that total $235,565.  May God bless you richly for this outpouring of love!  If you have not yet been able to participate in this support of Koinonia’s ministry, when you are ready, you may send your gift to Koinonia at 165 Lakeview Road, Highland Lake, NY, 12764.  At the bottom of this newsletter you will also find a donation button.  All such gifts are tax deductible.

  10. KOINONIA IS NOT OPEN.  Dear Friends, Koinonia is not officially open!  We have many repairs yet to do and safety measures to put in place.  We will need to hire staff before we can be fully open.  The Transition Board has approved “trial” openings such as Worship in the Pines (streamed live each Sunday morning at 10 on FB).  Under a special arrangement, the Asdahl House has been let out for a fee for a couple of months.  For now, we are simply not officially open … yet.  However, if you are interested in an overnight retreat during this trial period, continue to send your requests and we will decide them on an individual basis. Please bear in mind that not all facilities are fully functional during this trial period.  We request and appreciate your sincere understanding.  

  11. KOINONIA HAS NO ROOM FOR HATE AND VIOLENCE. “As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions.”  
    Please read the ELCA/MNYS statement here. 

 

The Transition Board and Management Team join all of you in praying for the safety and health of everyone near and far in the midst of the Covid pandemic. 

 

Thank you, stay well, God Bless.

WORSHIP BEGINS - REMEDIATION ENDING!

June 14, 2020

1. WORSHIP BEGINS. Rev. Paul T. Johnsen will lead a Service of Holy Communion June 28 in the Chapel of the Pines at 10 AM. We will follow governmental and ecclesiastical guidelines. Social distancing will be in place. Please bring your own mask. “Come, let us worship the Lord” in the beauty of Koinonia!  

 

2. MOLD REMEDIATION ENDING. Remediation began May 11.  Mr. Steve Hurley, the contractor, says he will complete his work by June 26. Mr. Dennis Catalano, licensed by New York State, will then test and certify that the buildings are cleared.  

 

3. CAPITAL CAMPAIGN CONTINUES. Every board member endorsed and together has committed $127,000 to Koinonia’s 5-year capital campaign goal of $500,000. Nearly $43,000 so far has been received and made it possible to do the remediation. Please contact Rev. Bob Wollenburg, Board chair directly if you would like to make a five-year commitment .  

 

4. FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS. If you would like to fund a special project, please email Rev. Bob Wollenburg. We have Conference Center laundry to do, gutters to hang, sump pumps to install, dehumidifiers to purchase, roofing and sheet rock costs, and more.  

 

5. VOLUNTEER WORK. Everything, except the remediation, to keep Koinonia’s buildings and grounds functional, is done by volunteers at this time. Everything.  For this newsletter we would like to recognize Jackie Lund, former board president and camp photographer for her current work on maintaining the Koinonia Website. Thank you to Jackie and to all our volunteers! 

 

6. KOINONIA HAS NO ROOM FOR HATE. We are grieved to hear the news of another black man killed by police Friday night in Atlanta. We hold Rayshard Brooks’ family in our prayers. “As persons called to love one another as God has loved us, we therefore proclaim our commitment to speak with one voice against racism and white supremacy. We stand with those who are targets of racist ideologies and actions.” Read the message from the ELCA here.

 

The next meeting of the Transitional Board of Directors is July 3. Please send us your prayers as we discuss the mission and ministry of Koinonia, finances, and consider when Koinonia may be ready for overnight guests. Thank you, stay well, God Bless.

June 1, 2020

We are in a "waiting" period, but we are not idle. Think of St. Paul, who spent some 15 years between his Damascus road awakening and the beginning of his missionary journey. We will keep working until we see where God is leading us. Below are some updates and a call for prayers and support:

 

  1. The Conference Center remediation is complete. It looks great!

  2. Bob Bliefernich is working with Straight Line, a roofer, to make roof repairs. 

  3. The remediation is bringing us to a solid baseline on which we can build. 

  4. We are waiting to hear back from the ELCA Mission Investment Fund and the Metro NY Synod on the status of our loan application.

  5. Our treasurer (Carol Safchinsky) is keeping our options open at Jeff Bank.

  6. Art Kolbornsen and Tom Vorstadt, local volunteers, have worked on the roads and they look good!

  7. Once minor remediation is done the Lakeside building will be available (when Covid allows). 

  8. The remediators are now focused on the Asdahl House (director's). We decided to do that next because there is a vetted young couple and their dog who want to rent it from June to August. The couple will pay $1200 per month, providing the camp with needed income.

  9. Dr. Kathleen Ruen, our secretary, is working with Rev. Kathleen Koran, retired and former Koinonia Executive Director, to keep communications going on our website and Facebook.

 

Bob Bliefernich estimates that it will cost up to $20,000 to get plumbing, sheetrock, and roof repairs complete in all the buildings. Once these repairs are finished volunteers will be invited to the camp, when Covid allows, to help prepare for guests and re-opening. Currently the camp has $10,000 to make this happen. As we wait for responses from lenders, your contributions can help us accomplish this work by July 1rst.

 

As we begin our $500,000 Capital Campaign, we are grateful for the continued regular contributions of our donor base. If you are able to increase your contribution, or would like to begin making regular donations or a one-time donation as a part of our campaign, CLICK HERE.  If you are unable to donate at this time, please continue to keep Koinonia in your prayers. 

 

Thank you, stay well, God Bless.

IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION  
While we do not have a date for opening, if you wish to make a future reservation, please call Carol or Bob Bliefernich, our Management Team leaders.  
   • Carol Bliefernich: 845-699-1489
   • Bob Bliefernich:   845-701-9351

                                                                                                                                                           May 12, 2020

 

KOINONIA GOOD NEWS: REMEDIATION AND A CAPITAL CAMPAIGN BEGIN!

 

At the May 1st meeting, the Transition Board of Directors and the Management Team made a resolution to immediately begin remediation and repair of buildings. In order to support this work, the Board and the Management Team launched a five-year $500,000 Capital Campaign, and have already raised $123,000. 

Please consider a monthly financial commitment to Koinonia over the next few years. Give prayerful consideration to this request. If you would like to begin right now, go to our website (koinoniany.org). No contribution is too small!

 

Mold remediation began at the Conference Center on Monday, May 11. The New York State certified remediation contractor, Mr. Steve Hurley of Clean Air Care, says he will complete remediation of all the buildings in seven weeks. 

 

Once remediation is complete, Mr. Dennis Catalano, a New York State licensed mold assessor will test the buildings and issue a “clearance” certification. Clearance testing will assure that Koinonia’s facilities are safe and free of mold.

 

The contractors agreed to begin work with a payment plan requested and endorsed by the Transition Board and Management Team at its May 1 meeting. They received 50% down, approximately $75,350, and will receive the balance in twelve monthly installments. 

 

Funds for remediation are coming in part from the $123,000 committed by Board and Management members over five years as a kick-off to Koinonia’s five-year Capital Campaign. Additional remediation kickstart funding is from Koinonia’s Seedtime Endowment. We are proceeding down two paths for obtaining multi-year financing for the remediation, repairs and rehabilitation of the property: (i) Jefferson Bank which has indicated that it will require a mortgage on the property, as well as, personal guarantees of the full loan amount; and (ii) the ELCA Mission Investment Fund which had earlier requested (and has recently received from us) additional financial and business plan information prior to making a lending decision. A loan is necessary to give Koinonia cash flow while our fundraising, which stretches over 5 years, is completed. 

 

After the contractor and assessor finish their work, the buildings will need repairs. Some of this work includes roof repairs, drainage improvement, and replacing sheetrock, appliances and cabinets. Please know that volunteers will be able to make many of the repairs – in fact, we estimate the value of these precious time and material donations at $60,000!

 

When the time comes and it is safe, the Board and Management Team will invite friends and families to ‘come home’ and help celebrate Koinonia’s re-opening. We are looking ahead to welcoming you to Koinonia when the Covid crisis has passed. Please keep Koinonia in your prayers. Your support, in whatever form that takes, is essential and welcomed. Thank you, stay well, God Bless.

                                                                                                                                                        April 20, 2020
 
The Management Team and Board continue to work toward reopening, while following the NYS guidelines regarding the Covid 19 pandemic.  Many Koinonia congregations and supporters have been affected by the pandemic, from losing loved ones to difficulties coping with changes in daily routine with or without family members.  The Management Team and the Transition Board would like Koinonia to be ready to receive guests and congregations and use our Lutheran Outdoor Ministry to help heal you when the stay at home measures are lifted and the mold remediation is complete. 
 
The Transition Board of Directors and Management Team met April 3rd via Zoom.  Our Board member, Dr. Anthony Geraci gave a compelling update on the status of the Covid-19 virus in Staten Island and his opinion on the crisis.  We are fortunate to have his guidance during this time.  Please stay home.  
 
Each of the board members gave a report during the meeting.  The Mission and Vision Team, led by Rev. Dr. Eric Olsen and Mrs. Barbara Meberg spoke of communications with Bishop Egensteiner and Pinecrest, developing a healing curriculum with the help of board member Rev. Matt O’Rear, and creating a list of bullet points to clearly define Koinonia’s mission.  The Communications team, led by Dr. Kathleen Ruen, reported on outreach to other ELCA Synods, the Missouri Synod, and the NYC Episcopal Dioses, as well as an effort to coordinate and streamline communications on all platforms.  The Core Financial team, led by Treasurer Mrs. Carol Safchinsky, reported stable operating expenses and the status of our loan application to Jeff Bank and our progress in requesting Mission Investment Funds (MIF) www.mif.elca.org from the ELCA. 
 
The Transition Board made a resolution that would give Mrs. Carol Safchinsky the ability to negotiate the terms of the Jeff Bank Loan, but to not commit to the loan without the approval of the full board.  There are many moving parts to securing a loan for the camp, as well as receiving assistance from MIF.  We ask for your prayers in guiding the Transition Board to secure funding that will best serve Koinonia’s future.
 
Once a loan is procured, the remediators are ready to begin their work on all the buildings except the Two Family (which did not have mold).  The whole camp could be remediated in 6-8 weeks.  The Transition Board made a resolution to select Steve Hurley as our vendor for remediation.
 
Board Chair Rev. Robert Wollenburg asked the Management Team and the Transition Board members to each make a 5-year commitment to the camp. As of this newsletter, the Management Team and the Transition Board have so far made a combined 5-year commitment of $123,000, which is inspiring. 
 
On site, phone and internet service have been installed in the Office/Staff House building.  We will share the phone number once we have a receptionist. Koinonia is now fully insured. The Lakeside bathrooms are complete.  Gravel has been delivered to level out the roads.  Carol Bliefernich reported on conversations she has had with the DEC and the Nature Conservancy about possibilities for conservation rights.  At this time the DEC is only interested in purchase, not easement rights.  No further discussion has taken place.  The Koinonia Wildlife Management Association (KWMA), a local hunting club, continues to provide volunteer labor.  We are grateful to all the volunteers who are keeping the camp maintained, especially Tom Vorstadt, Art Kolbjornsen and Bob Bliefernich.  We will let you know when Koinonia is ready to receive guests.
 
Please keep Koinonia in your prayers.  We are all moving forward together to re-open Koinonia with strong vision, finances, and outreach.  Your support, in whatever form that takes, is essential and welcomed.  Thank you, stay well, God Bless.
KOINONIA GOOD NEWS: PROGRESS IN SMALL STEPS                  March 20, 2020
 
Since the last news release, almost a month ago, the Management Team and Board continue to work toward reopening. We are working on several fronts. The Management Team, chaired by Carol Bliefernich, oversees daily activity at the Camp. The Board, chaired by Bob Wollenburg, provides general oversight. 
 
The Interim Board of Directors met March 4 via Zoom. It was the first meeting. We reviewed Koinonia’s recent history, reviewed finances, heard a report from the Management Team and began organizing for further action. 
 
At the March 4 Board meeting several leadership roles were identified in addition to Rev. Bob Wollenburg as the president. Dr. Kathleen Ruen will serve as the secretary and coordinate communications. Mrs. Carol Safchinsky will serve as treasurer, as she did for the previous board; Mr. Mark Wilson will assist and together they will be the core financial team. Rev. Dr. Eric Olsen and Mrs. Barbara Meberg took charge of a Mission and Vision Team.
 
The top priority is the board’s effort to secure a loan. An application was submitted to the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) Mission Investment Fund (MIF; MIF is a kind of church bank; www.mif.elca.org). Another application has been made to the office of Jefferson Bank in Monticello, NY. We will let you know when we have a commitment from one or the other.
 
Fundraising is another major area that is receiving attention. Please keep this in your prayers. We will be asking donors at every level to help reopen Koinonia’s ministry. 
 
 
 
 
 
On site, the Koinonia Wildlife Management Association (KWMA), a local hunting club, continues to provide volunteer labor. They and other local volunteers continue to clear trees and address other issues. Most recently they rebuilt and replaced the Bilco doors at the Administration and Staff House. These are the external doors that lead into the basement. They are also planning to replace the bedroom doors at the Two-Family Center. 
 
The remediation contractors remain committed to us; the numbers reported at the February Corporation meeting have not changed. A contract will be signed as soon as we receive positive word about one of our loan applications. 
 
After remediation is completed, we have plans for keeping humidity levels in the buildings to 55% or less, as recommended by the professionals, to prevent mold. We have one bid and will be looking at another. The plan is for some buildings to receive commercial dehumidifiers, others heat pumps. The Conference Center requires roofing repairs. The Two-Family and 5-Sided need insulation replaced. 
 
Covid-19 has challenged all of us. As people of Koinonia, and God’s koinonia (the Biblical word is Greek for “community”), let us remember each other in prayer. Here is a video you can use to make your handwashing a spiritual, if not also entertaining, task.
 
NOT SO HUMOROUS IS THE ADVICE THAT NO ONE SHOULD BE GOING TO KOINONIA WHILE WE ARE IN THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC!  
 
Please stay home. We will let you know when Koinonia is ready to receive guests.
 
Dr. Anthony Geraci, a member of the Koinonia Board, wrote, “We shouldn’t be up there for the next several weeks to maybe couple months and only those who test negative should go”. Dr. Geraci is the Director of Neuromuscular Medicine at North Shore-LIJ Hospitals. The Board had planned a meeting on site for April 3. Due to Covid-19, our next meeting will again be via Zoom. 
 
The truth about the coronavirus is that it is deadly, more deadly than the flu, and the best way we can show love to each other during these times is to stay home. Please do your part. 
 
 
“This is the message you have heard from the beginning, that you should love one another. Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action” (1 John 3:11,18). 
 
 
 
IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION.  While we do not have a date for opening, if you wish to make a future reservation, please call Carol or Bob Bliefernich, our Management Team leaders. Their cell numbers are 845-699-1489 (Carol) and 845-701-9351 (Bob).  At this time, two churches have scheduled retreats. Please keep Koinonia in your prayers and thank you for all of your support.

165 Lakeview Drive Road

Highland Lake, NY 12743

board@koinoniany.org

We are currently closed for renovations. Please visit this site for frequent updates. 02/17/2020

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TBD

 

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