Follow the Money: Intangibles Measure the Value of Pine Springs Ranch

Part 3

This Follow the Money series explores the way Southeastern California Conference allocates tithe, and what the conference’s expenditures say about SECC’s values and priorities. This conversation takes on extra significance in these financially uncertain times.

In terms of percentage, Pine Springs Ranch, the conference’s retreat facility nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains, represents the smallest allocation of retained tithe in the conference’s budget. However, the 1 percent (more than $400,000) that subsidizes the ministries of Pine Springs Ranch would be misleading if the figure were used as the measure of PSR’s importance to SECC and its constituent congregations. If intangibles such as changed lives and lifelong relationships with people and with Christ could be measured, they would better tell the story of PSR’s value.

Pine Springs Ranch, which celebrates 50 years of operation this year, serves congregations inside SECC and Christian groups beyond SECC’s borders. Its summer camp program provides six weeks of programming for children and youth in a beautiful natural setting where campers forge friendships with God and with one another.

Because PSR is an SECC entity, income from church retreats and conferences go directly into the mission and ministries of the conference rather than to organizations outside of the conference. PSR’s income helps to support the camp’s many programs. PSR’s director of operations, Carmen Ibañez, shares some of the programs that the retreat center provides:

“We are privileged to host the Leadership Institute as they nurture the souls of many of SECC’s pastors through the ministry of the Journey (a program of spiritual formation and renewal for conference leaders). Those SECC pastors who are not part of the Journey also have an opportunity to come up to PSR a few days a year for personal retreat time without charge.

“We also have the opportunity to witness to those of other faiths through the ministry of hospitality. We seek to be a place where groups can come up and focus only on their experience/encounter with God while we worry about the “little details” (lodging, food, etc.). Ultimately, it is our desire that every group, regardless of their faith, is able to feel God’s presence throughout their stay.”

Ibañez envisions expanding the scope of PSR’s ministry to include surrounding communities. As Pine Springs Ranch marks its fiftieth anniversary this year, plans have been made for a celebratory event with hay rides, games and food. Ibañez plans to invite the mountain communities near the camp to attend in order to establish new connections, she says.

Despite this year’s milestone, there are significant challenges facing Pine Springs Ranch. During the 2008 SECC quadrennial session, delegates called for postponing implementation of a master plan for PSR that would provide much-needed repairs and improvements. Ibañez notes that budget reductions have had an impact.

“We are replacing what is absolutely necessary,” Ibañez says, “and creatively fixing everything else to hang on for a little while longer.”

Challenges notwithstanding, PSR’s legacy continues to be one of friendships forged and lives transformed. Carmen Ibañez again:

“The greatest rewards come when we hear what happens in the lives of people when they come here. It is inspiring to see how young lives are changed because of their experiences during summer camp. I remind our staff that the little things we do give our guests the time and space that they need to experience God’s presence freely.”

The tithe money set aside for Pine Springs Ranch points to a core value that cannot be easily quantified. The Ranch provides space for people to connect with God and one another.

By Jared Wright

50th Anniversary Celebration
Pine Springs Ranch
December 17 and 18, 2011
For information, call PSR at 951-659-4131      .

Summer Camp at Pine Springs Ranch
Info: 951-509-2266,
June 26-July 3, Discovery Week, ages 8-10
June 29-July 3, Pathfinder/Adventurer Mini-Camp
July 3-10, Junior Week 1, ages 10-12
July 10-17, Junior Week 2, ages 10-12
July 17-24, Tween Week, ages 12-15
July 24-31, Teen Week 1, ages 13-17
July 31-August 7, Teen Week 2, ages 13-17

Follow the Money

Where Do Tithe Funds Go? - Part 1

SECC Helps Equip Churches and Members - Part 2

Intangibles Measure the Value of Pine Springs Ranch - Part 3