The Confidence Cairn is a symbol of the church’s confidence that God will care for them in the future.
I became the Interim Pastor of the Newland Presbyterian church in October 2004. The church had been through a difficult few years ending with a hard pastoral leadership transition. From my perspective, it was the classic "turn-around" leadership situation. I knew that from the start that I had to help shift their attention from the past to the future. The congregation had to believe that they had a future, and that they had to get started on creating it, if they were ever to find a place to deal with the emotions of loss, guilt and conflict that remained. Doing something positive, constructive and future oriented puts people in a position to change the hard stuff of their past.
The birth of the idea that became The Confidence Cairn came from several thoughts that I had while camping with my sons' scout troop just prior to coming to Newland for the first time.
One thought came from the text selection for my first Sunday. I chose the Genesis text of God's call for Abraham at the ripe old age of 75 to pick up his entire family and move to a land that was unknown and unfamiliar (See Genesis 12). The text reads,
So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and invoked the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on by stages toward the Negeb.
These altars were stacks of rocks at places Abraham's family would worship, and always remember that here is where they had experienced the presence of God.
A second thought came to me because of what I had seen about two weeks before in the mountains of Idaho. High up on the Lolo Trail in the Bitterroots, there is a place called Indian Post Office. Along this ridge are five-foot tall stacks of rock.
The third thought is that changing attitudes, perceptions, mindsets requires a tangible project to focus energy on. Talk wasn't going to turn things around. So, I decided that we should build a rock cairn as a symbol of the congregation's confidence that God is in the midst of the future of their church.
The response by the congregation was tremendous. The next day, rocks began to show up at the church. Each Sunday for months someone would bring a rock. Then the rock cairn was built. A dedication celebration was held on June 12, 2005.
Along the way, the community of Newland began to ask about “that pile of rocks in the church yard.” As a result, the Avery County Commission and the Town of Newland issued proclamations designating June 12th as a Day for Confidence in the Future for the community in honor of the dedication of The Confidence Cairn of the Newland Presbyterian Church.
The Confidence Cairn will stand as a rock-solid symbol of confidence in God for the future of our church and community. May God bless each one who finds inspiration, encouragement and purpose as they reflect upon its meaning.
The Confidence Cairn Proclamations
Avery County Commission Proclamation honoring The Confidence Cairn Dedication
Whereas the people of Avery County are historically a strong community of faith, values, generosity and hard work,
Whereas the people of Avery County have been served well by their institutions of family, church, schools, businesses and government,
Whereas communities, like Avery County, weather natural disasters, economic hard times and personal tragedies through the support of family, friends and community institutions,
Whereas community traditions and symbols of shared values have encouraged people to work together for the greater good of their community,
Be It Resolved that the Avery County Commission proclaim June 12, 2005 as a Day of Confidence in the Future for Avery County in recognition of the dedication of The Confidence Cairn of the Newland Presbyterian Church.
Kenny Poteat, Chairman
Avery County Board of Commissioners
Robert C. Wiseman, County Manager
Adopted: June 6, 2005
The Town of Newland Proclamation honoring The Confidence Cairn Proclamation
Whereas, since it’s founding, the Newland Presbyterian Church has been an important faith community for the people of Newland, North Carolina,
Whereas, members of the Newland Presbyterian Church through many generations have provided able leadership for the community of Newland,
Whereas, the Newland Presbyterian Church along with other Newland congregations desire to serve the community of Newland providing encouragement and assistance during times of natural disaster, economic difficulty and personal tragedy ,
Whereas, the Town of Newland recognizes that a town that works together is a healthier, happier community,
Be It Resolved that the Mayor and Town Council of Newland, North Carolina here by proclaim June 12, 2005 as a Day of Confidence in the Future of the people of the Town of Newland in recognition of the dedication of The Confidence Cairn of the Newland Presbyterian Church.
Beatrice Wilson Daniels, Mayor
Town of Newland
Adopted: June 7, 2005