The pavilion was done and a dedication ceremony was scheduled.
On October 8, 2005 several community members gathered at the newly constructed pavilion for the grand opening/ribbon cutting. Looking through these photos, I can just see the happiness on Jim, Warren, & Eleanor's face.
Their first vision had come to fruition!
As I was going through piles of past Zion material, I found a newsletter written by Warren in November 2006. I will be quoting this newsletter over the next several blogs.
In Warren's words: "Zion is like a child. All the months leading up to the grand opening was like a pregnancy. There was lots of preparation to be done; from planning where everything would go to even choosing a name. The grand opening was the BIG announcement with balloons and lots of pictures."
Now the big question remained. How to get people to come to Zion?
Warren & Jim believed that everyone should learn about God's handiwork. "We can show how people can become self reliant & learn about how nature can help us, without harming the environment. We believe it is never too early to teach our children about the Lord; and it is never too early to teach them an appreciation for nature, the environment, & good stewardship"
They had an idea for mini-retreats, a youth & young adult Nature camp, as well as hunting & fishing. The pavilion was in place but if they wanted to do overnight retreats they would have to build cabins. So the cabin building began!
The picture on the left is the before photo with only the fishing shack. The middle & right picture are from today. You can see the completed road, the fishing shack & the rustic cabins directly behind the fishing shack.
Their second vision had come to fruition!
The next phase of Zion is a huge leap of faith. Check back next Thursday to find out what's next.
Jim Wagner, Warren & Eleanor Garretson are originally from Cape May, New Jersey. In the late 1990's they purchased 2000 acres of farmland in rural Belmont County, Ohio. Jim & Warren became partners in a cattle farm called Fox Country Farms.
They all have a strong Christian background. Their beliefs are that as Christians, "God expects us to take responsibility for the environment and the other creatures that share our planet. As followers of God's Law, we must follow his teachings in the Bible as to our environment. God was careful how he made this earth. We must not be careless and wasteful as we fulfill this charge." After several years together, Jim & Warren had a vision for their farmland that they had to share with everyone.
Jim & Warren started a non-profit organization named the Zion Foundation. They turned over 1,300 acres of the Fox Country Farms land to the Zion Foundation. The land consisted of a 27 acre lake "Zion Lake" plus 18 other ponds, and beautiful rolling hills. Their vision was to let people share in the good of their land; free from the world's evil temptations. "The foundation is to provide an outdoor place for people to enjoy God's world. When you can be alone with God & nature, away from the pressures of the world, you can think and make choices more carefully."
Jim & Warren believe that God sent them here to this land. "It is a great place to have people learn what God did for his people as well as how we should be good stewards of the land. When people put aside the everyday pressures and stress of the world, and come to Zion, they can learn to get in touch with their inner feelings and purpose."
Now that their vision was in writing, the real work began. They wanted to build and build they did!
In early 2005 construction began on a 4400 square foot pavilion.
What comes next?
Check back every Thursday to see the progression of Zion and the mission of Jim & Warren.
Hi, I'm Lori Kovacs.