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,


Eric Lindsey said...

They only have 5 boarding students? Wow

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chad

Nick DiBernardo

Jess said...

Well said, Chad.

Margaret Barr said...

I visited the campus and was shocked to see how empty it is. If they need money, renting the facilities to church groups needing a place for retreats might help. They could raise a few bucks and employ a few people as well. What is the unemployment rate in the county?

That gymnasiam is astounding. Beautiful. Who wouldn't want to have basketball camp, (With Christian emphasis or not) and use that building every summer? There are probably church kids from several states who would love to have an unpaid internship to work there to put on a resume.
Brainstorm for more ideas.
Cono was an important part of my life and can be for more teens. Doesn't have to be just for kids in serious trouble.

Think of how many good families were BUILT because of relationships begun at many marriages, kids, grandkids, etc.

The tradition should go on. Maybe different, but still there in some useful capacity.