Koinonia News


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.

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




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.
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
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.
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


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