Iowa UMC Folks Make a Difference at LEC

Posted by Phyllis and Jan Wilson

Jan 25, 2016 11:36:55 AM

Another very busy week at the Florida LEC! The Mission work team from Fort Dodge, IA United Methodist Church, consisting of Roland and Juanita Johnson, Pat Bennett, Dave Newman, and Jan and Phyllis Wilson, joined with LEC volunteers David Lytle from Lafayette, IN and Ambrose Phillips from Milford Center, OH to replace the 6000 sq. ft. ceiling of the dining room at the Florida Life Enrichment Center.


   Jan, Pat, Dave and Roland installs last 2'X2' on first 1/2..

Our goal was to remove the old, sagging 2’ x 4’tiles and replace them with 2’ x 2’tiles.  Making the project more difficult was the brittleness of the old tiles and insulation, both producing considerable amount of dust.  Another issue was to figure out how to make the 2015 support bars to mesh into the older suspension, to support the 2’ x 2’ tiles.  Fortunately we had an “Ace” on our team Roland Johnson who figured a way to trim both ends of the new 2’ support, to fit securely in the older suspension.  Even Ambrose, a retired construction contractor was pleased how well Roland’s method worked. 


It was essential we finish the project in a timely manner as guests were scheduled to be fed each day.  The dining room had a mid room divider, so this was closed before we began on the other side from the food serving lines.  The first half took 2 1/2 days to complete (Friday, 1/2 Sat. and Monday)


Capt. Tom explain the history of the river.                                    

Tuesday morning, after the guests finished their breakfast, we removed all the tables and chairs from the other half of the dining room.  We also covered the serving lines and the doorways into the kitchen.  Once these were completed – things began to happen!  In approximately 1 ½ hours all the old tile had been removed.  At lunch, the guests were served with catering equipment in the dining room portion we completed on Monday.  By 4:00 pm on Tuesday, over a 1/3 of the ceiling was completed and at 3:00 pm on Wednesday the final tile was installed!  Most of the cleanup of this area was completed by 4:00.  WHAT AN AMAZING TEAM!

During our cleanup time, Phyllis commented to Chef Albert, “You are probably glad to say good-bye to this Iowa team!”  He said, “Absolutely not!  I have never seen a volunteer group show so much cooperation.”  I think they represent what it will b e like when Jesus returns.  You will help me build my house and I will help you build yours.  We will all work together.”  Then he started to sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”  It was an amazing touching moment.



Pat and Juanita having fun trimming (hair?)                                    The amazing FUMC volunteers, ready for the flight home.


2016-01-15_09.28.13.jpg The Finished Product

In addition to the ceiling, several of the Iowa Team did trimming, weeding, and planting.  Almost every night we enjoyed playing games, favorite being Sequence!  Who won?  These same volunteers were here last year and are already planning to return next year.  Wow!  Wow!  Wow!

Jan n Phyllis


Topics: retreat, volunteer, workamping

Why Plan a Retreat for your Church or Group......

Posted by Jess Schload

Jun 14, 2015 9:17:36 AM

Planning a retreat is a tough job. You need to decide to do it, choose a leader, plan marketing to get folks hope_and_rogerto come, set a budget, and price for the retreat, pick a site, take registrations, plan a schedule and more. As one who works at a retreat center, I am always amazed at the folks who take this task on, usually with no training, and pull it off very well.

But, why? Why do you want to even go through all this work? Most retreat leaders I talk to plan retreats for two basic reasons.

  1. They had wonderful experiences at a retreat and want to share that with others.
  2. They want to make a difference in people’s lives. They want to help their church grow in faith.

It is a lot of work to plan a retreat, but it is worth the effort. Think of a time when you saw a change in a person’s life at a camp or retreat. Or a time when you sat in a worship service with a group of folks you just spent a wonderful couple of days with, and knew you were a stronger person, that you would be different when you went home. Remember that time when someone told you how tired they were, burned out on life, work, or God, and a time away in a beautiful space turned them around.

Retreats are what the word implies. They are a time to get away. To remove yourself from the everyday toClick this box to  begin planning your  next retreat or conference be with a group of other like minded people and center on a special topic or theme. To think of nothing but your life with God, or your spouse, or the group you are with. Retreats have many purposes, from training, to spiritual growth, to rest and renewal. However, no matter the purpose, the time apart is valuable and needed by many. In today’s “connected” world, we all need to disconnect once and a while if we are going to be whole.

Why plan a retreat? Because you can make a difference in your and other people’s lives. You can help people grow. You can help your organization or church be stronger. You can have fun with the group who attends. When a military leader yells “retreat!”, the troops leave the heat of the battle for safety. When you offer a retreat, you offer a time to get away from the heat of life. That is why planning a retreat is time well spent. Let us at LEC know if we can help. Check other blogs in this series for ideas. Look for books and websites on retreat planning. Begin today to make a difference. You will not regret it.

Rev. Jess Schload, Director,

Check out our website at

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Topics: Spiritual Growth, Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat in Florida, retreat, retreat alone, planning women's retreat

I Am Planning A Retreat - How Much Will It Cost?

Posted by Jess Schload

Aug 22, 2014 6:00:00 AM

One of the first questions people ask when checking with us (or any site) about doing a retreat is “what will it cost?” I have noticed in recent years, with the downturn in the economy we experienced, people not only ask that question, but often ask about any way to reduce the fees. I fully understand this concern.


People today are concerned more than ever where their hard earned income goes. If someone is going to spend what it cost to attend an event or conference, they want to make sure it will be money well spent. The old question “what is in it for me?” is many people’s guide to saying yes or no.

When deciding the fee you will charge for a retreat, you need to take a number of things into account.

  1. Cost of food and lodging at the site.
  2. Other site costs
  3. Costs for a leader(s) to guide the time.
  4. Cost for materials needed for the event.
  5. Transportation costs (if you are providing a bus or other means of transportation).
  6. Marketing costs.
  7. Miscellaneous costs (always build a bit of this in for all the things you can not anticipate early in the process).

Both the site used and you need to work together to make sure the event is worth the hard earned money the attendees will spend to attend. The site will provide the services and space. As a site, our mission is to make this place ideal for people to come and grow in faith or other ways depending on your goals. We seek to have beautiful and peaceful grounds, activities for free time, outstanding meals, and comfortable lodging. We seek to match your event to the best meeting space possible to meet your needs. All we want you to be concerned with is the program. We will have your back on all the other services.

So, how much does it cost? Every site is different. There are very low cost options, and those that will be higher. You could choose a summer camp as your site, but be ready for bunk beds (up to 8 in a room), the need to bring your own bedding, and the use of a public bathroom (plus they may have a more kid friendly menu for their food service). For many groups, this is no problem.

Other sites offer private and semi private rooms, each with a bathroom and linens provided. This will, of course, cost a bit more. Many adults insist on these comforts. When getting a price from a center, make sure you know what it includes (or does not include). Most centers will price per person. Find out the following for starters.

  1. Is this a price for the entire event or the daily price?
  2. Are the meals included?
  3. Are linens included?
  4. Is the meeting space included?
  5. Are audio visual items available and what do they cost?
  6. What are extra charges we might have? (An example from our site would be catering beyond the meals, or canoeing, both which are not included in the rates).

Growing In Faith With Life Enrichment Center


Also, never book a site without a site visit. A place that looks wonderful on the website may have a totally different look and feel in person. Most sites are happy to have you come and see the place. If you are unable to do this, recruit someone to do it for you. You will be glad you did.

Cost of an event like this is important. It is a major factor in planning. But it is not the only factor, and the cheapest may not always be the best option (but it may be as well). As you consider planning a retreat, you will also need to consider other questions like:

  1. What am I trying to accomplish or what is my goal for this event?
  2. What will be the theme?
  3. What am I looking for in a site?
  4. Who will be invited?
  5. How will this be financed?
  6. Who can be the leader?
  7. What is the best date?
  8. How many days(nights) should this be?

Watch here for more articles on this subject. We, as are other conference centers, are here to help you. Most sites have a dedicated person who is assigned to work with you throughout the planning.  For us it is Connie, and she can be reached at 352-787-0313 or Want to know what it costs? That depends on your needs. Contact Connie and she can give you a quote from LEC.

Let us know if you have any question. 

Check out the following for more information:



Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat

Planning a Women's Retreat?

Posted by Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central

Jul 8, 2014 2:30:00 AM

Credit for this article to Retreat Central ( Retreat Central is a great resource for retreat planning including searching for centers in your area. Used with permission.

The question so often asked of women is “how do you do it all?”  There are countless articles, interviews and even movies with this theme. 

Untitled-3-1I think the question behind the question is how we do more with the same or fewer resources than our fellow humans, men.  We both share the same number of hours in a day but somehow women seem to get so many more things accomplished.  The question of how we spend our time and attention is a terrific theme for a ladies retreat.  Women’s retreats are designed to enable us to take a step back, recharge and refocus on what really matters in our lives.  There are many ways the theme of “doing it all” or “doing more with less” can be incorporated into retreats. 

Let’s look at the key ingredients of every retreat: 

  1. Lodging 
  2. Food 
  3. Program    

Choosing a facility with a lovely environment is essential to this theme.  It does not need to be fancy or expensive, but it does need to be well-thought out in design and hopefully in a beautiful environment.  To bring the theme to life through accommodations, share with participants early on why this particular site was selected.  Make sure the facility managers help you access all the features of the property.  They know all the best uses and surprises!  For example, ask to host a break out or cocktail hour under the trees or in a special enclave.  If there is a nice chapel or outdoor amphitheater, utilize it for moments of sharing and group building.  Most retreat centers are significant less expensive than hotels and in fact “do more with less”.

Meals are a really easy way to bring forward “doing it all”.  Have the chefs share some of their tips for cost-savings and kitchen efficiencies.  Great chefs never have food waste during preparation and they have amazing ideas participants can apply these secrets at home.  You can set up food-based programs for exploring creativity and/or group building with real life exercises such as building “lunches to go” with only seven ingredients or developing a weekly meal plan that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes/night. 

The theme goes straight to the heart through the program.  Through the program the women will bond with each other and build a lifelong connection to your organization (church).  The program should build in intensity beginning with sharing and ending on commitment.  For example, beginNew Call-to-Action the weekend with each woman talking about their daily lives - what are they like?  Are they similar to each other?  Then move to tips and ideas of ways they can help each other feel strong and stable in their daily lives.  Finally, end with each person choosing one thing to strengthen and one thing to drop along with a plan for checking in with each other regularly before the next retreat. 

These ideas can help the women you serve appreciate themselves and your organization for years ahead.

Join our e-newsletter and receive retreat planning tips every month!

By Jaynie Schutlz, Co-Founder, Retreat Central 
Jaynie Schultz created Garrett Creek Ranch with her mother more than 20 years ago. She served as the founding Director of Sales and Marketing and is involved in many non-profit organizations and leadership development programs.


Topics: Retreat and Conference Planning, retreat, Christian women, Women's Retreat, Christian women's retreat, planning women's retreat

Grace is God's Constant Loving Presence....

Posted by Guest Author Rev. Kevin Witt

Jun 19, 2014 8:04:00 AM

Back in September of 2013, Kevin Witt wrote this blog on the topic of "Grace". I found it very helpful. We have shared some of Kevin's writings before. Learn more about him below. Thanks Kevin for your permission to run this article.


Grace is God’s constant loving presence in our lives actively engaged for the good of all. The Wesleyan spiritual tradition offers three helpful windows into the nature of grace all of which were integral aspects of 1chapel_duwrgympwhat inspired and motivated me as a camper and a growing leader.

Preceding Grace (Prevenient Grace) focuses on the way God showers us with love in many forms and actively works on behalf of our greatest good before we fully recognize that God is involved, before we fully embrace God in various aspects of our lives, and before we have an abiding trust in God’s love as the foundation for our decisions, priorities and actions.  God is present and drawing near to us.  The wideness of this love recognizes that no one is outside the care of God.  We are called to honor the divine spark within ourselves and each person, which draws us all to our Creator.

We never withhold our love and respect until we feel others have earned it, recognized it, or until someone fully conforms to our expectations or theological understandings, because God does not withhold grace.  God loves us first (prevenient means “comes before”) and so we love as a natural response to being loved.  Without a doubt, such a level of acceptance and genuine concern for the good of individuals and the good of all is healing and helps persons experience and identify God’s companionship in their lives.

Accepting Grace (Justifying Grace) is the love of God assuring us that all this is a gift.  Our oneness with God and God’s love for us is not something that depends upon our ability to do the good and right without fail.  Once we recognize the nature of God’s love for us and the world, we begin to understand who we are meant to be and what will give our life its greatest joy and purpose.  We can feel a deep separation from God, however, if we base our relationship with God on our own ability to live flawlessly.
If we make an honest assessment of our lives, we see that we have sometimes done and do things that cause harm to ourselves and to others either by our action or inaction.  We have not always been attentive to loving God either.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ speaks definitively about God’s answer in the face of this reality.  Accepting Grace involves our acceptance of God’s acceptance of us, which is a generous, forgiving love.  As teachers and leaders, part of our role is to build people’s faith, trust and confidence in this enormous love and to invite them to embrace God who embraces them as they navigate the ups and downs of life.  As leaders it is our privilege to also extend Accepting Grace to those in our groups on behalf of God and to encourage them to do the same for each other.

Transforming Grace (Sanctifying Grace) is God’s loving empowerment and involvement in our lives that enables us to grow more like Christ. Christian discipleship involves many transformations of thought and action.  Sanctifying grace invites us to open ourselves to be shaped by God so the sacredness of a life of love can infiltrate our way of being.  This is a life-long process.  In contrast to the attempt to be a good person to prove our worth or our ability, we are moved by the Spirit to love out of joy, thankfulness and recognition that we are already cherished in the heart of God, as are all human beings and the entire creation.

New Call-to-Action Loving God, loving ourselves, and loving the world emanates from grateful hearts.  Teachers and leaders can enhance this process by encouraging people to engage in what John Wesley called “Acts of Piety” and “Acts of Mercy”.  Acts of Piety are the habits and practices we incorporate regularly into our lives to help us draw closer and to stay in love with God.   Acts of Mercy include following Christ in a life of doing good and avoiding harm while inviting others to join in.   A servant’s heart, sacrifice and a reordering of priorities are inevitable when following Christ.  Such is a life of grace.
We have a unique and special mission as Christian camp and retreat ministries, which is amazing and beautiful.  It is our privilege and priority to nurture people as disciples of  Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  This is our gift within the overall spectrum of camps and retreats available out there.  If we forget our primary purpose and reason for being, in many ways we become redundant, unnecessary since other types of camps and retreat experiences are already offered.  I think our greatest strength and contribution to the society, not just the Church, hinges on living deeply in our Christian identity.  We may learn from others and expand the type of activities and services we provide, but it is crucially important not to simply mimic other types of camps and retreat centers and thus become generic.
Watering down our purpose to the point where our camp and retreat focus and programs become virtually indistinguishable from other types of camps creates serious difficulties long-term.   Kenda Creasy Dean – Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary – lifts up the essential importance of being inextricably immersed in the grace of God.  Without this, what we do may have the appearance of Christianity but not the power to transform lives or to inspire life-long Christian discipleship.  A hesitancy to actually do what Jesus did often produces a drift into a spectator spirituality focused on meeting our own satisfaction and interests alone, rather than being profoundly shaped by the love of God, the love of others, and a more mature form of self-love. It is the grace of God that transforms us and supplies us inspiration to pursue a meaningful life distinctly different from what a consumer mindset would produce.
Unfortunately, a shallower experience of Christianity is proving to have a widespread impact based on the extensive National Study of Youth and Religion which Kenda Creasy Dean references in her book – “Almost Christian.”  This book provides an eye opening look for leaders and parents.  Many young people fail to observe adults around them being truly guided by and transformed by a relationship with God that actually moves them to take risks to live out their Christian faith.  For a growing number of youth and young adults religion is becoming inconsequential as a result.  It is distressingly true even among a significant number who are actively involved in local churches and extension ministries of the church.  This can change, but only if we are very intentional to hone the experiences we offer to align with our core mission.
Making disciples for the transformation of the world is a grace full undertaking.  I think our camp staff and volunteers will be much more inspired if they can catch a vision of this great movement of God that they are a part of.

Ephesians 2:For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Questions to think about:

  1. How might you begin to build a culture of gratitude and grace?
  2. Which of the three dimensions of grace (preceding, accepting and transforming) is your strength and which do you need to expand so that your guests and participants can more fully experience the fullness of God’s grace?

Rev. Kevin Witt, Certified Camp Director, is the moderator and a primary contributor to the blog (  He has extensive personal and professional experience within camp and retreat ministry.  Kevin currently serves with the Leadership Ministries Division of the GBOD.

He provides workshops, seminars and consultations on many aspects of camp and retreat ministry and serves on planning teams for national trainings and certification studies.

He is the co-author of two books: the Retreat Leader’s Manual and Twists of Faith: Ministry with Youth at the Turning Points of Their Lives.

Kevin has developed many other resources and coordinates a very active Camp and Retreat Leader Network (CRLN) where over 1,000 leaders of faith based camp and retreat ministry share beneficial information and mutual support.

To join this free CRLN network or to contact Kevin –


Topics: Spiritual Growth, retreat, retreat alone, United Methodist Church, Christian grace, grace