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Joy El Ministries to celebrate 75 years of service

August 22, 2013|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Aaron Ziebarth, left, executive director of Joy El Ministries, and Miriam Ankerbrand, Joy El's development coordinator, stand in front of the worship building at Joy El Camps & Retreats in Greencastle, Pa.
By Roxann Miller, Staff Writer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Joy El Ministries has been sharing its ministry with the greater Tri-State area for 75 years.

To celebrate the milestone, the public is invited to a 75th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Sept. 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Joy El Camps & Retreats at 3741 Joy-El Drive in Greencastle.

A special celebration service will be held at 3 p.m. in the Worship Center. Past alumni of the Living Miracles and New Dimension choirs may attend a special musical performance during the service. Reba Miller, past director, plans to be in attendance.

Mildred McEvers started the nondenominational ministry in 1938.

“She was the Bible lady that went around to different schools in the area and told Bible stories to the children and encouraged them to learn different scriptures,” said Miriam Ankerbrand, development coordinator for Joy El.

McEvers planted the seeds of the Joy El ministry, Ankerbrand said.

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The ministry branched into the Released Time Bible Program in 1967, and then Camp Joy El was added in 1974, she said.

“It’s just expanded from there,” Ankerbrand said.

Joy El Executive Director Aaron Ziebarth said camping always has been a big part of the ministry.

There are many benefits of Christian camping, he said.

“Attending a Christian camp encourages spiritual growth. Biblical values are the foundation of all of Joy El’s programming,” according to Joy El’s website.

The year-round Christian retreat center and overnight camp offers accommodations for weekend church retreats, youth camps, father-son retreats, mother-daughter retreats, father-daughter retreats, home-school retreats, summer youth camps, summer-only camps, winter weekend retreats, winter youth retreats and more.

“Camping has grown very significantly over the years and so has the released time program,” Ziebarth said.

Over the years, a number of upgrades and amenities have been added to the camp.

This year, air conditioning was added to every cabin, Ziebarth said.

A Splashground water park and a new 650-foot zip line were added to the list of camp activities this year, he said.

“As the ministry continues to expand, we will continue to provide new activities and options,” Ziebarth said.

As the camping experience continues to grow, Ziebarth also would like to extend the reach of the Release Time Bible Program.

“Right now, there are about 3,300 students in our program,” he said. “But if every eligible child were to attend the program, that would be close to 30,000.”

It’s growing, but he would like to see it grow even more.

“We see great potential for reaching more children ... I can tell you story upon story of people whose lives were changed by the influence of one of these caring adults who ministered to them through Release Time,” he said.

Ziebarth reflected on a comment made by Miller, who was Joy El’s director from 1944 to 1967.

“She said, ‘I never would have thought it would have been this big,’” Ziebarth said.

“From day to day, we’re always amazed with what the Lord does, the opportunities he gives us and the impact we have on others,” Ziebarth said.

For more information on Joy El’s 75th anniversary celebration, call Joy El at 717-369-4539.

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