On August 9th, 2014 the Mt. Morris Board and staff hosted a celebration of a place that is both special and memorable. We celebrated…
…the people who searched for a place including Will Behrend, Thor Harberg and Fred Harberg who, in 1964, acted on a District’s desire to have a primary location for our youth camping ministry. They purchased (with both personal and Christian Education checkbooks) 164 acres of land in central Wisconsin, just past the Lutheran church with the neon blue cross on the steeple and just down Blackhawk Road. Later, they went to the District and asked for permission.
…the Sandhill renewal center, built in 1972, which hosts events such as youth
retreats, church ministry groups and family gatherings.
…the re-affirmed desire to have an identifiable camping ministries place to call our own. In the 1990s many people met to make plans, and execute fundraising programs to build seven cabins, a lodge called Black Oak and a program/dining/administration building called Arrowhead.
…the directors who in past years maintained the facilities and hosted all the groups who came to Mt. Morris. We remembered Walter and Sylvia Prahl, Lew and Naomi Thomas, Jane Sommers, Dave and Mary Jo Hornickle and Val Lehman.
… the current staff that so wonderfully maintains the facilities, coordinates single use groups and multiple groups together, prepares meals and offers genuine Christian hospitality to everyone: Joel Jarvis, executive director; Joy Witkowski, Food and Beverage Director; Nancy Vistain, Administrative Assistant; Barb D’Amour, Head Housekeeper; Jim Stannard, Maintenance Director; and all the additional staff serving under their guidance.
…that we are still discovering the vision of what Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center is to be. When a place is valued by some, word spreads and others begin to arrive. What is needed is some more space for this place! We are looking at additional areas for program, new cabins and even another lodge like Black Oak and to update Sandhill.
So how did we celebrate? Around 150 people came and helped make it a joyous celebration.
We opened up the facilities and grounds to be enjoyed. We were blessed with perfect weather, with temperatures in the 80s and sunny blue skies. Arrowhead was set up as a central place for refreshments for people to visit and sit on the deck looking out to the prairie and trees.
Aden Ward offered nature walks. A hayride took people around the grounds. A scavenger hunt, arranged by Kris and Doug Schefft, led explorers to significant places such as the swimming hole and the foot bridge. Deb Kappel set up games for people to play. Kris Schefft provided a nature art project for people to enjoy.
We made the zip line at the high ropes available for the bold and adventurous and the swimming pool was open.
Guitar, drum and harmonica music accompanied the grilled hot dog and hamburger lunch, after which notable people present were applauded for their leadership contributions. The Rev. Jim Hicks, Western District president and Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, Northern Province PEC president, offered words of encouragement and gratitude.
The whole assembly shared in litany prayers of thanksgiving with Stacy Wickert offering accompaniment on the keyboard. A photo show offered a visual presentation of the many people and events which have helped make Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center a unique place.
It was another memorable day at a special place. A place like no other.
Kurt Liebenow is pastor of Christian Faith Moravian Church in DeForest, Wis. and is president of the Mt. Morris board of directors. Photos by Jennifer Hiscox of Rochester, Minn.