By Nancy Engel |

A Fond Farewell

The current Oakwood Dining Hall and Chapel are no more. The oldest building on our grounds has been dismantled and a modern, bigger dining hall and chapel will take its place.

We are excited for this new addition.  Many hours and much labor have already gone into the dream that will soon become a reality. But nothing can take the place of the myriad of memories that echoed around those spaces.

A few days ago I ventured into the empty dining hall. I remembered attending Black Rock Retreat banquets in this space, retreat meals, many loud summer camp meals both as a camper and a counselor – I especially was fond of the cake options so graciously provided by the Ladies Auxiliary for each dinner meal! My mind’s eye saw the wall lined with salt and pepper shakers from years ago. This was the back drop for my head table for our wedding reception in 1981.  I became aware that the ceiling felt lower than the usual room. This intrigued me, knowing the grand reception venues that are popular at this time. In doing research, we discovered that at the time of our reception the ceiling was probably a bit under 7 feet! In 1997 plans were made to lower the dining room floor by 12 inches but various issues only allowed the floor to be lowered about 7 inches. My how times have changed. The new ceilings will come in at 9 feet.

I walked up the wooden steps to the quiet chapel. In the silence I heard music….from the Sunday evening music programs long ago; from the Special Week Sing-N-Zing times; from worship as a retreat guest. I heard laughter….from summer camp skit nights; from retreat groups connecting; from outdoor education school children. I heard deep conversations between counselors, friends, church members, parents. The air felt filled with echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This building, originally called the Tabernacle, was built in 1955. The project began on Memorial Day of that year. Many talented volunteers helped this structure to become the backbone of Black Rock Retreat that has endured for more than 60 years. It’s been used by God to feed His people – both spiritually and physically. It’s provided shelter and sanctuary. It has served the ministry well. We bid it a fond farewell. An era is ending but an exciting new season of ministry is just beginning at Black Rock Retreat.

For more information about the Summer Camp Expansion and how you can be involved click here.

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