The Spirit Orchard: An Excerpt from Days Filled with Sunshine

Perhaps you’ve walked through the doors in the back of the Assembly hundreds of times – and perhaps you’ve noticed the dedication of the room as “Caemmerer Hall.” But do you know who Rev. Dr. Richard Caemmerer was?

Dr. Caemmerer—“Doc” to Arcadians—served as a dean at RKD for fifty-one years. He taught homiletics (the art of preaching) at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and at Seminex, and anyone who heard him preach or speak could testify to his expertise. But as well as he spoke, he always made it clear that speaking about the Gospel was worthless if it didn’t spur listeners to action. He firmly believed Christianity was about acting with love, which is why one of his students said, “We did not climb the stairs to his office in order to hear the answer but to see it.” 

Caemmerer clearly conveyed this attitude in the address he delivered at the christening of the lecture hall in the Assembly, “The Spirit Orchard.

The great thing about Arcadia is that when we arrived we ourselves became part of an orchard. The purpose of the orchard is to produce fruit. God made a magnificent world and put a human being with great potential into it for one purpose: to produce a yield, the yield for which he made us. 

At any one moment we are a keyboard of abilities and skills in varying stages of use. The point . . . is: that they are for use. What counts is not that we are a human being with abilities, that we know what it means to love God and love people; but that we do it.

All of us look back over many or few years and we see how our potential for producing fruit has been put to the test. We would come together after a year at camp and assess in each other the progress, sometimes through hardship, of the past year. Or sometimes we met each other and bore the marks of prosperity, not always splendid, for that brought new tests and responsibilities. But always God, the Master Gardener, was standing at the side watching a crop mature, the yield of a growing faith in him and growing love for one another. After a week together, we discover the fruits of the Spirit taking hold. We say good-byes and wonder if we can find the new resources of the Spirit rising to the top.

At Arcadia through the years we have sensed the power of . . . love for one another. Instead of more or less stale Bible truths, the glory of God’s love to us in Jesus Christ became evident to us again. This was true because all of us began to be prophets to one another, demonstrating in words and actions that God is our Father and Jesus Christ is our Savior and the Holy Spirit is at work among us.

The result has been that many of us have come back through the years. As you talk about my many years here you are actually thinking also of your own. As you say thanks for whatever ministry of God’s love in Jesus Christ I have had the privilege of carrying out, you are thinking of my co-workers and especially of such a pioneer of the Christian life in action as Chief Weiherman, who was the teacher of us all. As you come back year after year, you do so not just because of the associations that the place has for your family or the pleasantness of the surroundings, but because of the experience of the closeness of God and his Spirit. When that goes on, we know that we are not just stray plants by the roadside, but are part of an orchard: the Spirit orchard.’ (Caemmerer 1973)


This is an excerpt from Days Filled with Sunshine: 100 Years of Camp Arcadia by Dr. Stephanie J. Jass. You can purchase your copy at the Trading Post in season or reach out to the office for more information.

One Response

  1. He was (and remains to be) the best example I know of what it means to be a true follower of Christ! A dear, dear man!

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