Since our first full camping season in 1959, Pilgrim Point Camp has been a setting for ministry beloved by many in our Conference. Over six decades, we nurtured relationships at Pilgrim Point, deepened faith and discipleship, and experienced abundant fun and laughter in that wonderful place.
Pilgrim Point Camp has also been a place of challenge for the Conference. Since at least 2009, the Conference has had numerable difficult conversations about the financial sustainability of Pilgrim Point for the longer term as facility needs at the camp multiplied and our Conference demographics changed. Following a long and prayerful discernment process, the Board of Directors voted to sell Pilgrim Point Camp in March 2019. That decision was affirmed by delegates at our Annual Meeting two months later.
Now we have turned a page in the history and life of the Minnesota Conference UCC. On November 30, the Conference closed on the sale of Pilgrim Point Camp.
The camp was sold to two different buyers in one joint transaction. Douglas County, where the camp is located, purchased 8.2 acres of the property and will develop that section into a public park that will incorporate the beach and Point area. A developer with long-standing family ties to Lake Ida purchased the remaining acres for residential lakeside lots under the name “Pilgrim Point Shores.” The total purchase price was $5.4 million.
Those dollars will seed the newly established Pilgrim Point Legacy Fund. Together with the insurance recovery money the Conference received after the camp’s dining hall fire in July 2018, this fund will support the strategic priorities of the Conference as determined by the Board of Directors, including (but not limited to) annual apportionments for our ongoing outdoor ministry and for the critical work of racial justice.
We celebrate that this beautiful corner of God’s creation will continue to provide space for families to enjoy the great outdoors with a publicly accessible park for all who want to visit Lake Ida’s shores. We’re also grateful that Douglas County has committed to telling the story of the Pilgrim Point property through interpretive features permanently installed and maintained on the property. These installations will share the history of the property from its Indigenous origins to our use of the land as a Christian camp and retreat center. We’re also reassured that the Lake Ida Association will remain diligent in offering its input to the County about development on the lake, helping to safeguard the health of that natural resource.
The Board of Directors and staff pledge to honor the significant legacy of Pilgrim Point Camp by acting as faithful and wise stewards of the Pilgrim Point Legacy Fund, advancing the call of the Conference to equip a courageous church alive with Christ’s transforming love.
We acknowledge that the sale of Pilgrim Point Camp is a cause of heartache for many in our Conference. We give thanks for the camp’s immeasurable impact on so many lives over 60 years of ministry. We also know that the profound experience and blessing of God cannot be confined to any one space but moves boldly with us into all the places and ways we gather. We trust in the promise of God to grant us a future with hope.
May God continue to journey with us all in the Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ, as we step faithfully into all our future holds.
Blessings and peace,
The Board of Directors, Minnesota Conference UCC
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister