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Intergenerational Creation care, solar eclipse event planned for Presbyterians in 2024

When celestial bodies align, so do opportunities for worship and wonder

by Beth Waltemath | Presbyterian News Service

Fernclipse, an intergenerational Creation care event, is set for April 6-9, 2024, at Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. (Photo courtesy of Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center)

The Office of Christian Formation of the Presbyterian Mission Agency is partnering with Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, to offer a four-day, three-night intergenerational Creation care event from April 6-9, 2024, culminating with a total solar eclipse.

Registration is now open for the Fernclipse: Solar Eclipse Intergenerational Event. Little Rock is expected to experience a little over three minutes and 30 seconds of totality on Monday, April 8, 2024. Guests will gather around 2 p.m. Central time for a picnic to experience the historic alignment. The next eclipse is not expected in this hemisphere until 2044.

Ferncliff Director Joel Gill said his team knew there would be great interest in traveling to areas like the camp where totality can be experienced. “We wanted to have an event that aligns with our mission,” said Gill. “So, we thought that having an intergenerational Creation care-focused event culminating with the total solar eclipse and marketing the event primarily to Presbyterians and Presbyterian congregations around the country would be a great way to share our space and welcome people to this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

Little Rock, Arkansas, the site of the Fernclipse gathering, will experience a total eclipse on April 8, 2024, that will last about 210 seconds. (Photo courtesy of

Making the event “accessible to families, groups and individuals” was a driving factor for Stephanie Fritz, coordinator for the Office of Christian Formation, who had noticed how the total eclipse in 2017 caused spikes in lodging rates and what some called the “car-traffic apocalypse” in the 14 states where totality occurred. When Gill reached out to Fritz about making the Ferncliff site, which can accommodate up to 300 people, a place to gather for the eclipse and celebrate the call to care for Creation, Fritz and her team saw the benefits of aligning these two ecclesial bodies around the overlapping of the moon and the sun.

“We are being told by local officials that we should expect thousands of guests to our area and that travel in and out on the actual day of the eclipse may be difficult,” said Gill. “Being able to come in ahead of the rush to a place that has lots of room and know that everything you need for the next three days is going to be provided will be reassuring for our guests.”

The cost for the event is $199 per participant, plus lodging. Accommodations range from motel- and hotel-style lodging, which can sleep three to four people, or cabins and yurts that sleep up to 10. “There are plenty of options for individuals, families or youth groups and churches,” says Miatta Wilson, associate for the Office of Christian Formation, who hopes to get the word out to anyone interested in this intergenerational event, regardless of their affiliation with a group. Meals, from Saturday dinner to Tuesday breakfast, are included, along with activities such as canoeing, archery, games, service, guided nature hikes, and eclipse-themed science and art projects. While the event is not limited to Presbyterians, the sample schedule notes that “the curriculum and worship services will be Presbyterian in style.” The schedule offers no shortage of activities but also the grace for guests to opt out and just sit in a rocker on the porch.

“Ferncliff in April is beautiful,” said Gill, who marvels at the beauty of Creation the area has to offer with or without an eclipse. “There will be wildflowers blooming, the creeks and lakes will be full, and the trees will have just put on their new leaves.  It’s a wonderful time to hike or fish or simply sit on the porch with a book as the temperatures in April in Arkansas are often ideal.”

Register for the Fernclipse event here.

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