Thursday, November 19, 2015

By Carlos Canales

My name is Carlos Canales. I attended Cono from 1993 to 1995. At 16, Cono was my first stop in the States coming from Peru which, at that time, was a struggling country financially and politically. I also came from a family that struggled with various kinds of stability. Cono was a good home base for me as I transitioned to a new culture and a new life. Cono was simple enough to help me reorganize around my life's priorities and faith. It had strict enough boundaries to contain the many emotions running through me during those formative years. Cono also had great families ready to adopt kids like me, families with fabulous male presence. I am forever impressed by Mr. Dupee (Sr. and Jr.), Mr. Deutchman, Mr. Belz, and Mr. Birchler. I remember them with great appreciation and warmth. Each personality was different from the other but they were all loving and Godly. I was also impressed by the quality of relationships with peers. I can list names of folks who will always be my friends, my buddies. It is not hard to smilie and savor so many wonderful memories and shared experiences. Those years were golden.  

I want to support Cono because it really changed my life orienting it to who I am now. I am married and have a child. My family is Christian and hard working. I am stable, happy, and involved in giving. I became a psychologist who aspires to give as much as my Cono teachers did. And, I hope others get a chance to have a similar enough blessings through Cono once again.

Carlos Canales

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Beginning - 1948

Just to note: This is NOT the current state of things but a 1948 summary of HIStory

Evicted from the Cono Center Church because they disassociated themselves from the Presbyterian church in the United States and joined with the Bible Presbyterian faith, members of the Cono Center congregation will meet in the Cono Center school on Wednesdays and Sundays, their pastor, Max Belz, announced Tuesday afternoon. The elders, officers and some of the parishioners met in the schoolyard to plan for the future at a communication from the Dubuque Presbytery, which evicted the congregation through a Buchanan county district court order, are (left to right): Mrs. Herbert Arnold, Mrs. Fred Geicke, Miss Jean Agnew, Mrs. LeRoy Gardner, Mrs. Belz and Mrs. Will Gardner. The children, sons and daughter of the LeRoy Gardners, are (left to right): Gwen, 2, Grant, 9, and Danny, 5.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

By Annie Chase

Thank you for starting this and spreading awareness of this! I attended from 2005 - 2008. God completely transformed my life because of the staff and services of the school and church. I whole heartedly agree that the church should regain the legal title to Cono. There should be checks and balances on leadership. It greatly saddens me that the church appears to be almost non-existent on campus as they have driven away the community and connections that were once strong. 

- Annie Chase

I hope that this video can preserve a tiny piece of the Cono's past and the wonderful memories that many of us shared there. Click Link Below.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What has happened at Cono

All that has been happening at Cono in recent months and years may have left you wondering where things stand. This is written to inform and encourage you, and to lay a foundation for your prayers, involvement and support.

On Sept. 28, 2015, the Bible Presbyterian Church congregation voted 21-0 to bring Cono and all of its land and financial assets back under the authority of the church. The congregation’s membership that voted was made up of those who were officially on the church roll in January 2012.

The land and assets had slid away from church control into the hands of three people who are the current administrators. Under their leadership the school has shrunk to a shadow of its former self and become a new entity that is separate from the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which Cono has historically been part of. But the Iowa Presbytery, the regional authority of the PCA, determined that Cono’s current leadership did not have the authority to make this transfer, and the recent congregational vote re-directed Cono and its assets back to the larger Presbytery.

What's going to happen now? It will probably take a court to assure that the Presbytery has clear title to the school. The independent, closely held four-member corporation that took it away had transferred everything into their corporation’s name, and they likely will dispute the validity of the recent congregational vote. Therefore the Presbytery must seek “clear title”. It might be a lengthy legal battle, costing the Presbytery significant expense. Our job as Friends of Cono is to raise money for these legal costs, thereby putting Cono back in the hands of the church for future camp and/or school work, again where many children can be touched with the power of the Gospel—openly, transparently and clearly.

Sharpening the vision for Cono’s future will take time. The first priority is to help the Presbytery gain clear title.

How you can help. There are many who will join this effort. There will be immediate legal and travel costs to begin this process. We would like to raise $100,000 of this as soon as possible. This will cover basic legal costs to gain clear title for the Presbytery to all of Cono's assets. Gifts for this purpose are tax-deductible and can be sent to:

Iowa Presbytery
Cono Legal Defense Fund
c/o Kevin Schwab
1130 Main St.
Ackley, IA 50601

Supporters can also give online at this GO FUND ME LINK to help the Presbytery stay ahead of legal bills. Friends of Cono is a non-profit with 501(c)(3) status and your gifts are tax-deductible. Call me if you have questions.

Casey Reinkoester
President, Friends of Cono
(319) 361-8292

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Chad Gardner Family

I'm not much of a speaker when I've got an audience or camera but I can write as words pour from my heart.  I’m a graduate of Cono (95’) and attended the school and Bible Presbyterian Church my entire childhood until I graduated.  Cono has always been considered “home”, no matter the time spent away. Pulling into any one of the driveways, it was familiar, safe and always a welcoming warm place, until recently… Over the last few years, my heart breaks when I see the underuse of “God's facility”, it's a ghost town! My wife and I drive by this beautiful facility at least 2 times a day, and I can count on one hand the number of people that I have seen outside in the last year.  Yes!, in the last year!  Many of you know what I'm talking about and it's maddening.

To those that live a distance from Cono, this probably doesn’t seem possible, especially considering the fact that that facility has doubled in size in the last 20 years. This isn’t right and needs to stop.  Currently, Cono has a current student population of five, the size of my graduating class. At its peak, Cono had a capacity of around 120 boarding and day students (late 90’s). How can this be? In a time of more broken homes with more broken families than ever before and this place has lifeless rooms and buildings!  

Most of you remember your day at cono? Wakeup, breakfast, morning work crew, Chapel, choir practice, the school day, mid day work crews, soccer and volleyball practices, supper, work crew, study hall, lights out. Remember loading up in the buses or vans to go to practices at the Rowley or Walker gyms?  Now, Cono has one of the nicest gyms around with full locker rooms, a full weight room, and beautiful classrooms. The best part, it only costs about a grand to run the entire gymnasium for the year because they put geothermal in. Choir tours, away games, tournaments, cleaning up the chicken farm, chopping wood for the hearth room, cooking with Prue D., working the garden with Hans D., I could go on and on and I wasn’t even a dorm student.  

It's time we take Cono back! Who’s we?, the PCA church, those of us who live close, love the place and who know that this isn’t right.  If you're reading this and your heart is breaking, then it's you too… 

Who needs to be here? Kids, lots of them, people who need this place. People who need Jesus! The real one, not the fluffy, only if you're good enough One, but the real One who died for you and me, who regardless of what we have done or will do, loves us. People who need God’s love are endless..  Orphans, widows, troubled teens, pastors who need to refill their cups, refugees, kids whose parents are sick and tired of the “bankrupt public school system”, kids who need a summer camp to work and attend instead of sitting around with too much time, struggling marriages..  Heck let’s have a christian LOLLAPALOOZA! The point is, the vision the founders had for Cono, was for a place that taught people about Christ and a facility that was used for that purpose. There HAS TO BE LIFE THERE! 

Can this be the Cono it used to be?  Let's see where God leads this… 

In His Name,