A beloved Presbyterian campground will likely close after Chicago church officials voted to sell the grounds on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan to a private developer.
The vote on Saturday comes as the Chicago Presbytery aims to pay a $7.9 million debt, the result of a confidential 2007 settlement with several men who claimed they had been sexually abused by a Presbyterian minister.
Around the time of the settlement, the Presbytery took out a multimillion dollar loan using the campground as collateral, a decision at the time unknown by many of the roughly 33,000 Chicago-area church members.
Church commissioners Saturday voted 154-89, with two abstentions, to approve the sale after about an hour of closed-session discussion at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on North Michigan Avenue. Longtime church members and camp attendees at the Saturday meeting, some in camp sweat shirts and T-shirts or carrying signs that said “Please Save Our Beloved Camp,” hugged or cried after the vote.
Jennifer Ievans, 42, of Aurora, who said she and her family have attended Presbyterian Camps in Saugatuck, Mich., since 1981 with her family, said she was shocked so many commissioners voted to sell. She said it may further isolate families turned off by what she called the mismanagement of the church’s debt and property.
“I foresee other people withdrawing themselves from the Chicago Presbytery,” she said.