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“A Life-changing Week in Montreat”

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That was the title of the article that Dolly Jacobs, associate pastor for pastoral care of the First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, North Carolina, posted before her departure to Montreat in late July. The church’s youth group was planning to spend the week here, and Dolly wanted everyone in the congregation to know how important that week could be. She wrote: “The theme for that 1986 Montreat Youth Conference was ‘Branded.’ The adult leaders guided us through what it meant to be ‘branded’ by society: athletes, intellectuals, introverts, extroverts, popular kids, etc. As the week unfolded though, those labels were …

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On the Importance of Prudence and Caution

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We have enjoyed a remarkably good and healthy run this summer at Montreat Conference Center. On Tuesday, however, one of our participants at youth conference began experiencing symptoms, was immediately isolated, and later tested positive for COVID-19. Yesterday, a second positive was discovered in a different group, and again, appropriate precautions were taken. This morning, we received the news that four more youth from that same group had tested positive. This particular group has left Montreat and is returning home today. For the remainder of this week’s conference schedule, activities have been adjusted to reflect even greater caution. One of …

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A Purpose That Grows as Generosity Flows

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This week’s message is longer than usual, a message adapted from the address given to Montreat Patrons at last week’s reception. I always have a glad and grateful heart when I attend the annual Patrons Reception to honor the donors and leaders who make Montreat’s mission and ministry possible, and when we gathered this past Saturday night, I think my heart set a new record for gladness and gratefulness. As I told those assembled, “Thank God we are here, thank God we are together!” This gathering was an important opportunity to say thank you to the people who have made …

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With Gratitude

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Gratitude is the word of the upcoming weekend. On Saturday evening, the conference center will host the annual Patrons Banquet to honor and express appreciation to those donors who generously supported our programs and operations over the previous fiscal year. This year’s casual evening will include food trucks, supper under a tent, and Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters, Asheville-based musicians now drawing national attention. Any review of the previous year must include praise of decisions made by our Board of Directors just as the pandemic was dawning. As stated several times in this space and elsewhere, at the spring …

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The Future of the Huck

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I don’t have a lot of childhood memories of The Huckleberry, Montreat’s snack bar at Moore Center right on Lake Susan. I do remember being in there once as a teenager with some friends, awaiting milkshakes on order, and the poor server being so distracted by all the chatter that the machine sprayed ice cream all over him and his work station. We feasted on the story far longer than we did the ice cream. Otherwise, I really hadn’t given The Huck much thought in recent years, and yet the pandemic has prompted a new focus on community spaces on …

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On Calling and Remembrance (Guest Starring The Toe River Valley Boys)

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A few days ago, while sifting through a box of Montreat keepsakes, I came across an LP recording that I recognized instantly: “Square Dancing In The Blue Ridge Mountains” by the Toe River Valley Boys. The album, I believe, deserved its keepsake status because its bluegrass music had accompanied the square dances that my home church once hosted for local youth on Friday nights during my early teen years. My father, our church’s minister, organized these dances and invited the youth groups of other congregations to join us (the dancing congregations, at least). On those Friday nights, our fellowship hall …

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Welcome Back, Presbyterian Friends in Ministry!

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With the summer conference season of 2021 about to conclude its third week, we have welcomed back this week a long-standing and valued conference partner. We began the season as we typically do, with two weeks of youth conferences, and are following with two weeks of Worship and Music conferences, planned and executed by the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, simply and widely known by their acronym, PAM. Founded in 1970, PAM is a national organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for people who are involved in the areas of worship, music, and the arts. Its influence has been felt in …

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Old Roads Made New Again

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To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary this year, Jeannie and I decided that we will take a vacation bicycle trip toward the end of November. In an effort to prepare, I’ve taken to the streets over the past few months on the fine machine that once belonged to my father-in-law; the bike remains in great shape thanks to the maintenance expertise of the good folks at Epic Cycles in Black Mountain. I remember my first bicycle, a bright red little Western Flyer-style with conventional seat, handlebars, and bell. I remember my maiden voyage without training wheels courtesy of my father’s …

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God’s Work Needs to be Done

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On Monday morning, I welcomed the first youth conference to Montreat for the summer of 2021. For years, I have told our youth the same four things: Whether you’re here for the first time or the tenth, you are welcome and you belong. While God’s voice is everywhere, Montreat is one of those places that people sometimes find it easier to tune in and hear it. Listen for God’s voice this week. God has a call on your life, and a call for Montreat, too. Lend your own voice this week, because it’s through your own voice, through your sharing, …

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God Loves Through His People

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Did you catch the end of the Liverpool/West Bromwich soccer match a couple weeks ago? No? This particular game basically came down to the last play, when Liverpool won on a header from their own goalkeeper, Alisson Becker, a play so rare that…well, it’s the first goal ever scored in competition by a Liverpool goalkeeper. Liverpool has been playing soccer/football since 1892. Yet that wasn’t what I’ll remember most from that day. After the game, Alisson was interviewed, of course, and asked about the winning play. He gave all credit to God, as athletes often do. Then the interview shifted. …

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Summer Updates 2021

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A little over a year ago, in the early days of the pandemic, we were sorting through unprecedented challenges at the conference center on an almost daily basis. In the midst of the highest days of anxiety, I particularly remember some members of our staff chuckling over a strangely comforting thought: Someday, long after this is over, somebody is going to rush into your office one day in a panic and announce, “We have a BIG problem!” And you’ll remember the pandemic, and you’ll just look up and smile a little bit, and you’ll think to yourself: Oh yeah? I’ll …

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Thank You for Your Support of the Montreat Fund

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As you heard last week in this space, Montreat’s fiscal year ended on April 30. While the final mail is still being opened and every dollar counted, today we give thanks for the record number of donors who propelled the Montreat Fund to an early total of over one million dollars for the second year in a row, and just the second time in history! This is a monumental show of support, and allows the mission and ministry of this special place to adapt to the changing needs of the church and of all those who call this place sacred …

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End of Fiscal Year Update from MRA Board Chair

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As our fiscal year draws to a close, I’ve asked Burnet Tucker, chair of the MRA Board of Directors, to share an update with you. I have the privilege of serving as Chair of the Board of the Mountain Retreat Association (d.b.a. the Montreat Conference Center). Over the past several months, I’ve been asked about how the MRA is weathering COVID financially as well as how the proposed lodge fits into our bigger financial, hospitality, and programmatic picture. As the MRA prepares to close its books on April 30 (the end of our fiscal year), I thought it would be …

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Year End Thoughts and Thanks

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As we approach the end of our fiscal year on April 30th, we are as usual doing our best to reach out and remind everyone to make their Montreat Fund gift in time. Making some of those calls this week got me thinking about Dorothy Allen, a longtime Montreater who passed away in January at the age of 99. Dorothy was an original donor to Montreat’s Patrons Fund in 1962, though she pointed out to me once that she was not an original Patron per se. Dorothy told me that she and her husband, Kirk, just couldn’t find the funds …

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Plans for Summer 2021

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As we approach the middle of April this week, it feels like a good time to let you know of the conference center’s plans for this coming summer.

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On Growth, Change, and Montreat’s Essential Character

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In his memoir, Montreat: A Retreat for Renewal, former MRA president Calvin Grier Davis described the decisions and rationale that led to the formation of the Town of Montreat in 1968. In the run-up to the first election, Davis noted, “It was assumed by many on the Board, and some of the citizens, that the officers of the Mountain Retreat Association would be elected to serve on the Town Council, that their experience would be available to administer the affairs of the town and there would be little change in the Town of Montreat.”  A page later, Davis reported the …

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Lodge Site Selection

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Lodge Site Selection – a Montreat weekly update from Richard DuBose, president of Montreat Conference Center.

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Plans for a New Lodge

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Plans for a New Lodge – a Montreat weekly update from Richard DuBose, president of Montreat Conference Center.