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PA Southeast Conference Update





September 23, 2014


After a very long period of much deliberation, hard decision making, and the work of many, many people, we brought to final conclusion the sale of the Mensch Mill Retreat and Conference Center today. Settlement is complete, and the following press release has been shared with local media outlets. 



Alburtis, PA - Months of speculation about the sale of the Mensch Mill Retreat and Conference Center ended this week with the announcement of final settlement between the seller, Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ, and the buyer, the Amitabha Buddhist Society of Philadelphia.


Citing serious budget shortfalls and waning camp usage, representatives of the Conference's 169 congregations moved to sell the camp after arriving at the difficult decision at the Conference's November 2012 meeting; a decision that was reaffirmed with increased support, at the following June 2013 meeting.


The farm property that was originally owned by the Adam L. Mensch family was purchased for $6,000 for the development of a church leadership training center on November 15, 1928 by the Eastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Reformed Church (a forerunner of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ).   In 1947, the Jacob G. Rupp farm was purchased for $1, enlarging the Camp Mensch Mill property (an additional 70 plus acres). In 2004, the Kline Conference Center opened, on additional grounds that had been purchased from the late Annabelle Kemp, which expanded programming opportunities.  For eighty-four years, the mostly wooded area of Mensch Mill was home to summer youth camps, workshops, and retreats. Mensch Mill staff welcomed diverse groups seeking to "provide an intermingling of varied backgrounds, cultures, races, and experiences in which individuals can develop an awareness and concern for society's issues" (from "A Working Paper on Church Camping," by Rev. William H. Solly, Minister of Camping for the PSEC of the United Church of Christ, 1973-1979).  "It is with this spirit that we transfer the deeds of this holy ground to the Amitabha Buddhist Society of Philadelphia, with the hope that they, and we, may remain faithful to the hospitality and educational intentions of the former teachers and leaders of Mensch Mill Retreat and Conference Center," stated Rev. Wanda D. Craner, Minister of Spiritual Nurture for the PSEC. 


The Amitabha Buddhist Society will maintain the property's current form and function, operating a retreat and conference center for their Society's members as well as groups from other organizations. According to Lee Ta, spokesperson, there is strong desire to not disturb the land and to honor the spiritual traditions that have preceded their purchase. The Society's first and foremost mission is to establish The Pure Land Learning Center in this holy ground. Secondly, they will earnestly seek to work with PSEC to continue retreat and leadership training programming on the Mensch Mill property in the near future; and third, they will seek to partner with other interested parties to create the next Multi-Faith Multicultural Center as a model city of peace and harmony.


"We have an exciting and extraordinary opportunity to continue our connection with what is for many in the PSEC, sacred ground, and to do so in partnership with new friends whose stewardship of the earth, quest for spiritual wellness, and respect for tradition, mirrors our own," said Rev. Bill Worley, Conference Minister of the PSEC, after a meeting with Mr. Lee Ta.   Asked if the differences in the two faith traditions would pose potential conflicts, Rev. Worley responded, "perhaps, in the dining hall, over the menu."


"May this mill property, which ground so much grain--crushed so much seed--now no longer crush seed; but may this place scatter a higher type of seed, and may this seed fall into good ground and bring forth fruit abundantly.  And may we all do our part to make it light and life for the Kingdom of God."  --from an address by the Rev. J. M. Blatt at the Dedication of Camp Mensch Mill, August 24, 1930.


About Pennsylvania Southeast Conference

Pennsylvania Southeast Conference is the United Church of Christ (UCC) in southeastern Pennsylvania. We are 169 congregations, open and welcoming to all people, with an extravagant welcome for you! Although our faith is 2,000 years old, our thinking is not. We are a church committed to justice, equality, healing, and peace... a church where 'God is still speaking'!


About Amitabha Buddhist Society of Philadelphia

Amitabha Buddhist Society of Philadelphia is one of many The Pure Land Learning Centers all over the world under teachings and guidance of Venerable Master Chin Kung. We first established in Philadelphia, PA in early 2000. Our practitioners have come together to properly learn Dharma teachings, praise the unsurpassed Pure Land Teachings, and to devoutly practice chanting Amitabha Buddha's name and set our hearts on reaching the Pure Land.


Tammie Wisniewski

PA Southeast Conference of the UCC

1441 Laura Lane, Suite 100

Pottstown, PA 19464

484-949-8774x304, 484-651-4166

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