A lot of important things have been happening in Montreat during the winter and early spring, two of which have really captured my attention.
The first big thing is the Building on the Tradition Campaign. By action of the Board of Directors in its March meeting, that campaign is laser-focused for the next several months on the renovation of Assembly Inn. This renovation is key to Montreat’s continued success and future well-being. The cost will be $6 million. To date we have raised in gifts and pledges $2.7 million toward the renovation, and we want to begin the project this fall. Yet the Board, being fiscally responsible, does not want to authorize the commencement of the project until we have $5 million in gifts or pledges in hand. Our challenge for late spring and summer, therefore, is to secure $2.3 million more. I pray you will help us toward this goal.
The second big thing is a review of our Youth Conference Model. As it has been for close to thirty years now, Montreat continues in its commitment to making the six weeks of Youth Conferences we offer each summer the most excellent experiences available for young people in the church, especially the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). To that end, we have begun this comprehensive review of our way of doing Youth Conferencing. What is a Youth Conference intended to be? What are the desired outcomes for the young people who attend as well as for the congregations that entrust them to us? What strategies should be used in the conferences to achieve those outcomes?
Because the church has changed over the past three decades, as has the social context in which young people live, this model review is crucial. A stellar team engaged in this review met recently in Atlanta. Out of that meeting, clarity emerged about what the Youth Conference is and what makes it truly distinctive from the many other “summer options” church youth groups have. So what is the Montreat Youth Conference? Here is what the Model Review Team has said to us:
The Montreat Youth Conference is a Christian gathering for youth, reformed in theology and practice - It clears space for encountering God and discovering and deepening a vibrant and durable faith in Jesus Christ - This happens through biblical and theological exploration of a particular theme in worship and music, recreation, prayer, and conversations with mentors and friends across the church.
I am honored to be related to an institution that boldly offers this conference to the church. I hope you are as well.
Grace and peace,