By GRACE GADDY
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center cut the ribbon on the first phase of a three-phase $10 million building campaign Monday, with the dedication of its new “Sisk Shop.”
The structure was named in honor of the center's maintenance supervisor, Jerry Sisk, who has served on staff at the Lakeview camp for the past 25 years.
Sisk said he was honored by the decision and thankful for his experiences working with the camp.
“To fellowship with God out here, it's just a proud day—thank all of y'all,” he said to a crowd of family, friends and staff from Lakeview, who were present at the dedication ceremony.
His wife, Kelly shared similar sentiments.
“Oh it's wonderful, Jerry's been out here since '88 I believe, so it's a very big honor for this (building) to be dedicated to him,” she said. “Because Jerry is always one who does things for people, and when it's reciprocated... he doesn't expect anything, but when it happens, it's very nice.”
Danny Smith, chair of the building committee, said that without the staff, nothing could happen.
“It really began in 1947,” Smith said, reflecting on Lakeview's mission and growth. “This camp started with a lot of hopes and dreams, and it's a new beginning that's going to start here, so I think it's fitting that the new maintenance building is the fist building to be done. Because it's the staff that makes this work.”
Smith was talking about the first step in a big step, with Monday's dedication kicking off the first phase of a three-phase strategic plan to expand and renovate the camp.
Maintenance operations were relocated from an older building in the center of campus to the new Sisk Shop, which is in a more secluded spot and out of the way of guests.
Brandy Kines, director of development and marketing, said the relocation of the maintenance building allows for construction to begin with the strategic plan. The old maintenance site will be cleared for a new dormitory complex and replace Camp Windham, one of three dormitory complexes at the 1,300-acre camp.
“The campaign is called 'For Such a Time as This,' and it's a $10 million campaign to do this building, Windham dorms and Wesley dorms,” she said. “Currently we can sleep 1,100, and we've maxed that out a couple of times in the summer, so we're looking for a little more space. And we'll follow up with the rest of the strategic plan and the phases after that. This is the first big project.”
The strategic plan includes initiatives to replace Windham and Wesley Dorms, renovate and expand halls and offices, create a multi-function facility akin to a college campus student center, expand Fair Village from seven to 14 cabins, create additional parking space, an arboretum, new recreation venues, additional sports fields, a water park, an outdoor amphitheater on Lake Lemons, and more.
Lakeview is a ministry of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, located just outside Palestine in the Texas piney woods. The conference center also operates as a non-profit corporation and opens its doors to group events, reunions, weddings and more, and to individuals of all faiths.
Thousands of Texas A&M Aggies have begun their college careers at the conference center, which has been the site of the state university's Fish Camp for more than 55 years.