Taking a Look Back
Seventy-five years ago, Miss Mildred McEvers, a new graduate of Moody Bible Institute, came to serve as a missionary for CBM (Children’s BibleMission) in Franklin and Perry Counties. Miss McEvers began going to schools to teach Bible classes. “The Bible Lady,” as many called her, was the founder of what eventually became our Released Time Bible Program. Just like today, there were awards given for scripture memorization, with the ultimate prize being a week of free summer camp.
In 1965, it became illegal to have religious instruction inside the public schools. It was discovered that in Pennsylvania, it is legal for public school children to be dismissed from school for the purpose of religious instruction. Thus, the Released Time Program began in 1967.
Miss Reba Miller was integral in starting the Released Time Program. During the couple of years where she was not allowed to provide religious instruction in the schools, she would read “Pilgrim’s Progress” to the children instead. Even in the face of adversity, the ministry continued.
Jerry Traister, a new Bible college graduate, soon joined Miss Miller in the ministry. Released Time began to grow. During the early years of Jerry’s ministry with CBM, there was a push for CBM to have it’s own camping facility. Through much prayer and the generous donation of land from three local farmers, Camp Joy El was built. The buildings were finished in time to start camp the summer of 1974.
Today, we have seen much growth since the early days of the ministry. Released Time has grown from 5 initial schools in one county to 90 schools in 9 counties. We minister to over 3,300 children each year. Camp Joy El has expanded. A new Worship Center, a Splashground, an Adventure Village and more have been added to the features of the campground. Last year, we ministered to 1,476 children during the weeks of summer camp.
How Can You Help?
Our desire is to see continual growth in the programs of Joy El. To commemorate our 75th Anniversary, a Released Time Endowment Fund has been established. The Endowment Fund is set up as an investment account from which interest is taken and used toward the expenses of Released Time. Those expenses include Bibles, printed materials, awards, staff resources, bus transportation and insurance, as well as discounts for children to attend camp. Released Time is free to every child who participates, and we would like to keep it free for these children. Your donation to the Endowment Fund will help us continue ministering to these children for years to come!