An Important Announcement about the 2019 Season at Pilgrim Point Camps & Retreats

During a meeting of the Minnesota Conference Board of Directors on November 3, 2018, the Pilgrim Point Camp Committee brought forward a recommendation to cancel all programs at Pilgrim Point for the 2019 season and to explore alternative locations to host some of the Conference-sponsored programs. The Conference Board unanimously affirmed the committee’s recommendation.
The recommendation to cancel the upcoming season resulted from intensive conversations and prayerful deliberation of the Pilgrim Point Camp Committee and Conference staff. Three significant factors led committee members to their unanimous recommendation to the Board:
  • Uncertainty regarding the status of the dining hall for 2019 given the fire damage to that building last summer
  • The resignation of Pilgrim Point’s site manager and chef, who had been a key part of successful operations for the past two seasons
  • Notice from Luther Crest that they will not renew the current managed services agreement for 2019, due to significant staff turnover and challenges with summer staff retention and recruitment
Although no camps will be held at Pilgrim Point Camp in 2019, Lori Alford, Pilgrim Point Program Director, and Kevin Brown, Associate Conference Minister of Faith Formation for Children & Youth, are working now to identify alternative locations and creative ways to host a number of the camps and retreats normally scheduled at Pilgrim Point. Alternative spaces for Spring CYE, OWL training, Youth Camp, Women’s Retreat and Men’s Retreat have already been identified! Please look for more details regarding these and other programs in the coming weeks.
Kevin and Lori will also be working with the congregational sponsors for the week-long family camps to explore potential options for these experiences. Unfortunately, Conference staff will not have the capacity to coordinate retreat weekends for individual congregations, which have become such an important partnership between Pilgrim Point and our local congregations. We are developing a list of camps and retreat centers that may have availability for weekend retreats during the summer of 2019. Please feel free to contact Kevin to receive this list or with any questions.
The decision regarding the 2019 season at Pilgrim Point is a short-term decision that reflects current operational challenges. Meanwhile, the Conference is considering longer-term questions about outdoor ministries and Pilgrim Point Camp as part of its wider strategic discernment process begun this past summer.


An Outdoor Ministries Working Group, comprised of members of the Pilgrim Point Camp Committee, the Conference Board, and staff, has been consulting with Bill Bourdon, Executive Director of the Outdoor Ministries Association United Church of Christ. The group explored a broad vision for outdoor ministry in the Minnesota Conference UCC and examined a diversity of operating models and scenarios for sustainable and vibrant ministry. The working group presented a report to the Conference Board of Directors on November 3. A full copy of the working group report can be found HERE.
“The decision to cancel the 2019 season at Pilgrim Point Camp was a heavy one for all of us – the Camp Committee, the Board, and for us as staff. We know it will be deeply disappointing for many who treasure Pilgrim Point Camp as the sacred space it is and were eager to return there in 2019,” said Conference Minister Shari Prestemon. “But I trust in our resilience as a Conference, and in our willingness to follow the Spirit’s leading and dare a new thing.”
Feel free to reach out to staff members Shari Prestemon or Kevin Brown, or to Conference Moderator Janet Bartz or Pilgrim Point Camp Committee Chair, Scott Keehn with any questions and concerns regarding the 2019 season, the working group report, or the broader strategic discernment process.


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