October 31, 2023

Good Newsletter

Greetings and Blessings to you all,

October blessed us with incredible colors, important planning meetings, and an upcoming departure.

The conference center served food for 24 days this month, a sign of increased usage! Preparations continue for our busy Holiday season. Please read on for our October news and updates.

Reformation Meditation

Kathleen was invited to Christ Lutheran Church, Woodcliff Lake, NJ by Pastor Marc Stutzel to give a short homily, talk about Koinonia's rebirth, and celebrate Christ Lutheran's participation in the Capital Campaign on Reformation Sunday, October 29th. Read her meditation HERE


Board President Report

On Saturday October 21 we held our 2023 Strategic Planning retreat facilitated by Board Coach Keith Johnson at Koinonia. Twenty-three people participated virtually and in person, including board members, staff, volunteers, and community leaders. By the end of the retreat the group decided on three goals to focus on:

Goal 1:  Identify a staffing structure for current and future needs by June 2024 and implement the plan by December 2025.

Goal 2:  Raise operating revenue to achieve a balanced budget in 2024 and 2025.

Goal 3:  Grow Koinonia community by retaining current users/programs and attracting new/first-time visitors.

Each team has a champion, and they are in the process of defining their objectives and beginning their work. We look forward to giving a report on this Strategic Plan at our Annual Meeting in February.

Below please see updates on our current Strategic Planning Goals:

Goal Committee Work

Goal 1 – Operating Revenue (Champion – Mark Wilson): We are continuing to conduct outreach to bring in both philanthropic dollars and rental revenue to ensure a balanced budget and, ideally, a surplus by the end of 2023. We continue to collect payments for the Nature Camp and are thrilled to share we received an unrestricted charitable contribution from Zion Lutheran Church, New Jersey in the amount of $174,455.55. We will discuss allocation of these funds at our November Board meeting. This is a testament to the impact Koinonia is having on our members and their continued commitment to our work.

Goal 2 – Connections to member congregations (Champion – Kristi Jasberg-Robinson): We continue to see growth in the reach of our Facebook posts, and our most recent newsletter had a similar open rate.

Goal 3 - Capital Campaign (Champion – Anthony Geraci): The Capital Campaign is continuing to progress with a focus on our stretch goal to raise an additional $500k this year.  As of late July, we had achieved the following:

-         Actual gifts received: $824,248.36

-         Total gifts and pledges: $1,147,409.40

We are continuing our work to secure gifts from member congregations. This is progressing, including congregational announcements starting at my home church, St. JME, in October.  

Governance Committee

The Governance Committee, which is comprised of me, Blythe, and Gerry, has been meeting and making good progress on revising our Constitution. Our next step is to get input from Kathleen and then put together proposed revisions. Those will be shared with the Board when ready. 

Thank you for your continued support of Koinonia!

Katie Cunningham - Board President


Fundraising/ Finance Update

As of October 10th, we received

$107,762.45 in donations (not including Capital Campaign funds)! Thank You!

Our Capital Campaign Gifts and pledges are $1,147,409.40, total gifts (2020-present) are $824,248.36, and donations received this year as of the 7th are $221,510.03.

Our Common Ground renewal was sent out in September to celebrate the impact of the summer Nature Camp on children and youth and had a good response.

The Staff Alumni Capital Campaign team met on October 24th and is starting to build a working contact list of Alumni. If you are interested in joining this exciting team, please email Lora Baumhardt HERE.

Lora is putting together another Common Ground appeal letter for current donors which will be mailed out this week.

Kathleen continues to focus on following up on major gift leads and setting up meetings with Church councils about the Campaign.

Your generosity helps Koinonia thrive!

Property Update

The rainy weather continued this month. Matt and Tom kept an eye on flooding. 

Tom took on mowing, organizing, and needed small repairs in the buildings. KWAMA volunteers helped finish out the staff house basement and paint a storage room at the conference center.

Our roofer was contacted to give a new bid on the Asdal and Office Building.  Matt agreed to reach out to the engineer for the shower house to get more information/a final price. 

At the Property Team meeting representatives from the Nature Conservancy and the American Forest Foundation gave a presentation of the Forest Carbon program, and members of the finance committee and the board asked questions.  We continue to investigate this opportunity to care for our land.


Facebook post reach was down 1.6% vs April 10 -July 8th, we added 10 more followers in the past month, and post engagements hover between 350 and 3,500.  The most popular Facebook post showcased the beautiful fall foliage.

The last newsletter had a 51% open rate, same as the previous month. 

The Goal 2 Social Media Taskforce met Thursday October 12th and planned posts through the end of the month.

At the October working meeting of the Outreach/ Marketing team four members planned content and communications for January-April of 2024.

Kathleen visited Zion Lutheran Church Staten Island, St. John Matthew Emanuel Brooklyn, Calvary Lutheran West Hempstead, and Christ Lutheran Woodcliff Lake in October and gave temple talks, encouraging participation in the campaign. She also joined a phone church council meeting with Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Brooklyn.

Kathleen is scheduling congregational visits for 2024. Reach out to her HERE for a visit!

Worship and Programming

Thanksgiving Retreat

If you are not sure what you are doing for Thanksgiving this November, know we have a place to stay and a place at the table for you.

The Thanksgiving Retreat will be a mix of worship and meditation, thanksgiving walks, festive meals and the Macy's Day Parade/Football game streamed in the Agape room.

The extended Baumhart family will be there to join in the festivity. There are still spaces available. Come for a few days or just for the feast! Register HERE


Jean is preparing for Advent and has selected a theme. Advent I, II and IV follow this theme and there are still spaces available, but we encourage you to reserve soon.

The Festival of Lights (Dec 8-10th) Taskforce (Kathy Williams, Na Feucht, Deivis Ventura) met on zoom on October 3, and have planned a program celebrating African American, Chinese, and Latinx cultures. HERE

Confirmation Retreat

Congregations are making reservations for their confirmation groups to come up on Epiphany weekend, January 5-7th, 2024. Vicar Hayley Moe and Maya Nieberger from Advent Lutheran Church will be leading the retreat. Join us!

Aftercare closed for now

After a month, there was only one child enrolled full time, so we had to close the aftercare. Kathleen is following up with the local elementary school principal to discuss needs.

The 2024 calendar is finalized and is now on the website!

Matt, Lora and Emery Baumhart

are moving to Minnesota!

Matt Baumhart, Operations Director, submitted an official letter of resignation at the end of the month. He has taken a new job at a camp in Minnesota, and his last day is December 17th. Lora Baumhart will continue as the Development Director in a virtual capacity. We are happy for their new opportunity!

At the same time, we will dearly miss the generosity and kindness of Matt and Lora, the vivacious joy of Emery, and the constancy and dry humor of Charlotte.

In the next two months, we encourage you to share your gratitude and well wishes for Matt and his family by contacting them or sending them a card addressed to the camp. Keep them in your prayers.

Two action items for you!

Invite someone to Koinonia!

Bring a friend to your congregational retreat, invite someone up for the day to hike the property, share our website, instagram and facebook posts. This is a simple and powerful way for you to expand our ministry and welcome new people to Koinonia!

Register for the 5K!

We have moved the 5K back to Memorial Day Weekend and early bird registration begins on Nov 1. The race is on Saturday May 25th and will be a wonderful opportunity for the local community and our congregations to have a lot of fun and support Koinonia's summer programming! HERE

Thank You
Our Mission is reaching more people, and our vision to become "a flourishing outdoor community that cultivates transformation and ripples peace and reconciliation to the world" is leading us to the future. Thank you for reading this newsletter, for your prayers, your volunteering, your booking of buildings and rooms, and for your financial support. Together, we can build a ministry that will last for the next 60 years and beyond.

God Bless,

Katie Cunningham    
Board President 

Kathleen Ruen
Executive Director
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