Close to 200 people attended Van-Es Camp on Sunday, September 28 to celebrate the grand opening of the Unity Lodge. The Rev. Matt Gillard began worship in the Memorial Chapel and concluded at the new Lodge with a ribbon cutting joined by Van-Es Chair, Alice Sears, along with Dave Quest, member of the Legislation Assembly, and Rosanne Carr, mayor of Strathcona County. Tours of Unity and a barbecue followed worship.
But getting to this fun afternoon had been years in the making. A year-round lodge suitable for all ages was a long time dream of the Moravian Church in Canada.
The 2008 District Synod directed the Van-Es Board to conduct a feasibility study and bring a design to the 2012 Synod. The design for a 12-bedroom lodge with kitchen, boardroom and great room was approved unanimously by 2012 Synod. A $1 million fund raising campaign commenced and Moravians responded generously, raising $700,000 (which Synod directed to be raised before construction could begin.)
In the spring of 2013 the Van-Es Board awarded the project to Homes by Twin R, owned and operated by identical twins Randy and Ron Adam. Randy Adam had worked on the design of the lodge that was brought
In August of 2013 ground breaking and construction commenced. God graced Van-Es with good weather and Unity was completed in May of 2014 within budget and a month ahead of schedule.
Great emphasis was placed on sustainability. Unity had to be energy and water efficient, durable, low maintenance and attractive. To meet this need, we installed in-floor heating through polished concrete floors, LED lights that cost pennies to run and low-flow toilets and showers. Unity has triple pane windows, a high R-factor and a metal roof, which keeps it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
There are 12 semi-private bedrooms, each with its own bathroom and shower. Two bedrooms have full wheelchair access and can be used as family rooms each with a double bed and twin bunks. Fully occupied, Unity will sleep 28.
Interior design, facilitated by Berniece Adam, took its influences from the Memorial Chapel (built in the 1950s) with a modern twist. Open trusses and the rock fireplace reflect the chapel while modern cabinetry and stainless steel appliances give Unity an industrial yet rustic look. Great attention was given to detail and Twin Rís craftsmanship and quality is seen throughout the lodge.
Unity has a full residential-style kitchen with a large island. It is fully equipped and suitable for making meals for groups of 20ñ28. Larger groups are encouraged to use Van-Esís catering services.
The great room has two large sitting/lounging areas with an adjoining coffee bar and a large gas fireplace surrounded in floor-to-ceiling stone.
The board room seats 12 with nesting tables and chairs that can be configured as a board table or classroom style. There is a built-in projector and sound system and a full-wall whiteboard for use with dry erase markers. Barn doors from Bill and Rita Brese have been refinished and hung to create a striking feature wall and are complimented by an oil painting by artist Maggie Pringle.
Each bed in the Unity Lodge has a quilt that was made by the women in the District. The Unity Quilters under the guidance of Karen Gibbs met for a series of quilting bees. The result is 30-plus quilts which add a warm, welcoming touch to the bedrooms.
The surrounding grounds were landscaped with trees and shrubs from Millcreek Nursery.
It took four days to install furnishings and crews of volunteers came to help and worked long and hard getting everything ready and into place.
During construction, Moravians kept giving and with donations, pledges and a $125,000 grant from the Government of Alberta, a grant from the Melton Foundation and a gift from the Northern Province PEC, the funding targets were met. In response to this generosity, the Van-Es Board commissioned a donor recognition wall, which was created by award-winning commercial artist, Wei Yew.
As well as a venue for Moravian events and groups, Unity Lodge is available for rental to groups from outside the church. The revenue from the rentals goes towards the overall operating costs of Van-Es. Renters have responded well and the calendar is full of bookings. There are times on the calendar reserved for Moravian Church use.
Thanks be to God for working through the many donors, volunteers and supporters of the Unity Lodge to bring us to this celebratory time. We pray that this new addition to our beautiful property will help continue the ministry of Van-Es and the vision of those who long ago saw the potential of Camp Van-Es and Conference Centre.
Lynne Hennig is a member of the Canadian District Board of Elders and a member on the Van-Es Board. Lynne also chaired the Unity Lodge Fundraising committee, purchased all the furniture for Unity Lodge and supervised the move-in.