A PRAISE TO GOD
FOR HIS WORK THROUGH THE HANDS OF
Melissa & Gary Demers
on the occasion
of the their retirement as Campus Supervisors of the
the Ariel Ministries Messianic Bible Study Program at Camp Shoshanah
|In the early 1990s Gary and Melissa Demers were living in Vermont, owner/operators of a successful home building company which employed several workers, and serving in their local Bible believing church. It was then that a guest speaker came to the church, Rev. Dan Rigney of Ariel Ministries. The goal of Ariel was to lead Jewish people to saving faith in Messiah Jesus, see them discipled, and teach all believers to be better able to understand and teach the Scriptures for themselves, all from the original Jewish context. Dan told Gary of their property on several hundred acres in the Adirondacks, near Keeseville, NY, and of the renovations they've done over the years on the conference property. Dan invited Gary to get involved, and before long Gary and Melissa were making trips across Lake Champlain to advise and help out with the physical needs of Camp Shoshanah. By late 1995 Gary envisioned and proposed the building of a new, dedicated lecture and teaching hall. By 1996 Gary had sold his construction business, and was full time on staff with Ariel, living on the property.|
In the summer of 1998 not only was the regular 3 week program conducted, but because of the large number of Russian Jewish refugees
here after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a one-week Russian language Bible camp was added. In this photo taken on the beach,
Gary is at the upper right in the checkered shirt, Melissa is alongside him. Daughter Jennifer in the raspberry top, future husband alongside.
One of Gary's first projects was the construction of this dedicated Bible teaching and lecture hall. Previously, classes had been conducted
in the old main building, which served as both dining Hall, kitchen, classroom and recreation hall after hours. It had been added
onto several times. The same tables used for meals were then cleared for class time. The new lecture Hall was finished in 1996 and over
the years various improvements and upgrades were made. This photo is circa 2004.
The inside of the Lecture Hall, with Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum teaching a Bible class.
Another early project was the building of the camp supervisors home for Gary and Melissa. Gary used his construction knowledge
to lead a small team in the building of this home. This is the rear view, over the years various upgrades and improvements were added.
Another early project was the construction of this two-story dormitory and bathhouse. There are five residential rooms on the upper
floor, a handicapped accessible residence with bathroom on the first floor, and two very large men's and women's bathrooms with
shower facilities on the first floor. It is located along the road from the main campus to our lake.
The children's dedicated play area was set up by Gary, complete with swings, a clubhouse with a slide as well as climbing items for
the toddlers. Parents had benches and many happy hours were spent here. Over the years various improvements would be made.
Almost every year volunteers would come to help, most often from the SOWERS, a Christian organization of recently retired folks with
various skills. Gary built a regulation RV Park with fully professional hookups. This view is from 2009.
Gary's vision to design and build a very large, modern multifunction dining hall with commercial kitchen would require construction
infrastructure and workshop on the grounds. Thus in 2005 this commercial garage was constructed near the caretaker's
residence. That's Gary at the top of the photo. Today this garage holds the camp vehicles and construction equipment.
A few years after Gary took on the role of Camp supervisor, he saw the need for a much larger and expanded dining Hall with
commercial kitchen and auxiliary rooms. This was to be quite an undertaking as it had to be able to seat and serve a much larger
student body, and the plan was to have it fully insulated with heat and air-conditioning from the start, able to be used year round.
In August 2005, along with the Ariel Board and students, Gary and Dr. Fruchtenbaum placed the first ceremonial shovels into the ground
to begin construction. Significant amounts of granite would have to be blasted away to create a level area, but Gary was up to the task.
By summer 2006 the building site was clear, and concrete was poured for the floors and foundation using the large boom truck
seen in these photos. A crew was able to direct the flow of concrete
Three days after the concrete was poured, it was firm enough for us to hold this 2006 dedication ceremony, with the old dining hall seen
at left. We pledged the building to God's use.
The next day we had lunch on the patio, which would soon become the basement as building quickly commenced.
By 2009 the nation was in a financial recession, and funds for completing the building were scarce. The Ariel Board was committed to
not go into debt, and so progress slowed a bit. This 2009 photo shows the main room, what would become the dining hall.
Again in 2009, Melissa is leading some students on a tour of the future commercial kitchen.
By 2012 funds once again became available, and Gary had scoured New York and New England to find quality used
commercial stainless steel fixtures at an affordable price.
2012, the Dining Hall is almost ready!
It's now 2013, just a day before the new dining hall was dedicated. Only part is visible here, there is another wing to the left not seen.
On the weekend of the 2013 dedication, members of the Starks family were our honored guests. Their parents labored long and hard every
summer from 1976 through 2004 transforming the old ramshackle small kitchen into one that was usable, they oversaw its expansion twice.
A scene from 2013 shortly after the dedication, this is how our dining room looks today.
Melissa managed the Camp office, registering students like Gene above, ordering supplies and solving problems, all with the help of volunteers, often members of The SOWERS, like Deb W. above.
The SOWERS are a volunteer group of recent retirees, they helped Gary greatly
|Both Gary & Melissa Demers are
self-effacing servants of Messiah Jesus.
They always sought to avoid recognition and just gave thanks to the Lord.
At the end of 2021 they concluded their ministry at the Shoshanah Campus, handing over duties to a new Supervisor and retired, moving about 40 minutes near their daughter in northern Clinton County.
"Thank You Gary & Melissa, your service was as unto God"
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