Board has been gathering input for upcoming Craigville vote

Board has been gathering input for upcoming Craigville vote

In preparation for their Oct. 4 vote on whether or not to renew the Massachusetts Conference’s lease to operate the Craigville Retreat Center, members of the Board of Directors have been listening to many of those who will be affected by their decision.

The Board’s Finance Committee has recommended that the lease not be renewed when it expires at the end of 2015. The Conference has operated the retreat center, which is owned by the Christian Camp Meeting Association (CCMA), since 1960.

In late August, three board members, Conference Minister and President Jim Antal and Associate Conference Minister Dawn Hammond met with the 20-member staff of the center.  Later that same day, a fourth Board member joined them in an open meeting at the Craigville Tabernacle, attended by about 70 residents and friends of Craigville Village.

Then on Monday, Sept. 15, six Board members, Antal and Hammond met with 16  people at an open meeting in Framingham. Attendees included members of six MACUCC congregations and a representative of a Catholic retreat group.. Targeted invitations to this gathering were sent on two occasions to the 35 churches which held retreats at Craigville during 2012 and 2013.  The meeting was also publicized in the Conference’s Emailing, on the website and through social media.

In addition, the entire Board has read a dozen or more emails from UCC members, villagers, summer cottage renters, and participants in the annual Craigville Theological Colloquy.

After several years of study, the Finance Committee reached the conclusion that operating Craigville is not central to the mission of the Conference, which is to nurture vitality and covenant among local churches, to make God’s love and justice real.

Hammond said a central theme to the feedback the Board has been receiving is that the Conference should sponsor more retreats at Craigville, to make the Retreat Center’s operation more central to the Conference’s mission.

“Many people who love Craigville see the retreat center as a wonderful and underutilized resource,“ Hammond said. “It is an extraordinarily beautiful site.  But the sense of the Board and staff is that most of our clergy and lay leaders find it difficult to spend the time and money required for overnight programming.  So, even if we could somehow reconfigure staff and come up with more resources to sponsor retreats, it is not clear that this would have a significant impact on the vitality of our congregations.“  Hammond cited cost and geography as further impediments to the use of Craigville by many Conference churches.

At the open meeting in Framingham, the Rev. Bill McKinney of the CCMA Executive Committee assured those present that CCMA fully intends to find other management for the retreat center, should the MACUCC Board decide not to renew the lease.  “We are already in conversation with several potential managers”, he remarked. To this, Antal responded, “Nothing would please me more than to know that the Craigville Retreat Center will continue to be a resource for our churches under new management.”


NEWS: Conference may not renew lease of Craigville Retreat Center
July 23, 2014

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