All Are Welcome Here: A Few Things To Know About Montreat Conference Center

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Montreat Conference Center hosts over 30,000 guests in Montreat each year. We are fond of saying “All are welcome here.”

Below is an FAQ that helps to explain the commonalities, distinctions, and differences of the three largest institutions that inhabit the Montreat valley. As Montreat Conference Center, we continue to strive to demonstrate intentional hospitality to all who enter the Montreat gate and to be good neighbors to everyone in the valley.

1. Okay, first things first. Who are you?

We are the Montreat Conference Center. You may sometimes hear of us as the “Mountain Retreat Association,” our corporate/legal name (and the origin of the word “Montreat.”) The conference center often is referred to simply as “Montreat” by the more than 30,000 guests, conferees, and cottagers who pass through the Gate each year.

2. But Montreat is also a college, right? What is Montreat College?

Montreat College is a private Christian college located in the town of Montreat. Formerly known as the Montreat Normal School and Montreat-Anderson College, the college separated from Mountain Retreat Association and became a stand-alone institution in 1974. Today, Montreat College is an entirely distinct institution. The college and conference center have been separately governed for more than 40 years.

3. And Montreat is also a town?

Right, Montreat is also a town. The North Carolina General Assembly established the Town of Montreat, North Carolina, as a township in 1967 and Mountain Retreat Association gave up its municipal authority at that time. The Town has a mayor, a board of commissioners, and a staff responsible for the provision of essential services in Montreat, including water and sewer, roads, and public safety.

4. Wow, what a complicated valley! How do the three entities intertwine in terms of policy, governing, boards, and anything else?

Both Montreat Conference Center and Montreat College have distinct missions and are financially independent. Each institution has its own independent governing board. The Town of Montreat interacts with both institutions to govern and carry out its responsibilities.

The three institutions in Montreat exist in close proximity. Just as you and your neighbors cooperate and work to foster a positive relationship, the three institutions work together when interests are aligned to build community in Montreat and carry out their respective missions.

5. But isn’t everything in Montreat Presbyterian?

Montreat Conference Center is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), though we also readily welcome groups and individuals outside the Presbyterian church to experience Montreat. The Town of Montreat has no religious affiliations. Montreat College is related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by its history. The college has a Denominational Statement you can read here.

6. Okay, so three separate organizations… but what do you all share in the valley?

The three institutions share facilities from time to time to carry out our respective missions. If you want a handy guide:

Any building, lodge, or outdoor space with a green sign is owned and operated/maintained by Montreat Conference Center. This includes, but is not limited to, the Montreat Gate & Welcome Center, Lake Susan, the Montreat Campground, over 2,500 acres of protected wilderness, over 30 miles of trails, Robert Lake Park, the tennis courts, Currie Craft Center and Sally Jones Pottery, the pool, the Barn, Assembly Inn, Anderson Auditorium, and over 20 other buildings.
Any building with a blue sign is owned and operated by Montreat College. This includes the college’s academic and residential buildings, as well as the Chapel of the Prodigal and Gaither Hall.
The town’s offices are located just beyond the Montreat Gate, on Rainbow Terrace. Within the township, there are over 500 privately owned homes.

7. So can anyone come to Montreat Conference Center?

Absolutely. As part of a missional commitment to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Montreat Conference Center strives to demonstrate intentional hospitality to all.

Importantly, we must always be mindful that Montreat Conference Center is one of the places where our church for decades practiced segregation, a practice contrary to the will of God and to the unity of God’s people. We still have much to learn, and have much work to do.

So it is imperative that the conference center invites and encourages the virtues of open inquiry, diversity, and vigorous debate – virtues fully embraced by our Reformed tradition. We welcome everyone to our events and to come explore this beautiful valley. All are welcome here!