As we prepare for the coming summer, I offer the following statement to remind all who love Montreat of the MRA’s continuing commitment to become more hospitable to all of its guests and conferees.
Richard DuBose, President, Mountain Retreat Association
“And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’” (Matthew 13:52)
This passage suggests that Christian community has a treasure, a gift of God that contains both what is old and what is new. We believe that Montreat has such a treasure of the old and the new, and that this treasure is a gift from God.
The Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) was established in 1897 for the purposes of Christian convening for worship, education, and renewal. Out of this treasure of the old, we believe that Montreat has been characterized by people of faith who sought to serve God, and by a community in which much good has been done to spread the news of Jesus Christ’s redeeming love and to further God’s work in the world.
And yet we know that this treasure has also been abused and ill-used. Our history includes actions and events that have worked against Montreat’s purposes and God’s will. The MRA has legitimized, actively sustained, and benefitted from systems of segregation and exclusion that have contributed to the oppression of God’s people and (though not exclusively) to people of color in particular. We have failed to see the image of God in all persons, and we have been resistant to welcoming the breadth of human diversity into our midst. Further, we are tempted to ignore these harsh realities of our past and to engage in a nostalgia that omits these difficult truths.
We know from scripture, however, that to move faithfully into the future, to claim the treasure of the new, we must acknowledge our failures and confess the pain they cause and have caused. So we repent and, trusting in God’s grace and guidance, open ourselves to new assumptions, attitudes, and actions that will more fully embrace God’s good purposes for all people and all creation. We seek to conduct our work in ways worthy of our call, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Therefore, we commit to enact changes in structure, program, and practice that 1) will promote a greater sense of belonging for people from under-represented populations who have been historically excluded from Montreat; 2) will increase the probability of hiring individuals from under-represented populations for work on our staff; 3) will build our capacity to carry out this work in a sustained and faithful manner; and 4) will strengthen our efforts to confront and repudiate behavior – among ourselves and our guests – that is inconsistent with Christ’s call to welcome and extend God’s love to all.
We believe that these commitments originate from the very heart of our Christian and Reformed traditions. We trust that the Holy Spirit who has given us the gift of the old will also work to overcome all in our past and present that distorts God’s good purposes. We trust that the Holy Spirit is bringing forth in this beautiful valley a Montreat where all God’s people are nurtured in Christian faith and prepared for Christian mission in a hurting and deeply divided world.
Thank you for any way in which the Holy Spirit might work through you in support of these commitments.