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Crystal Springs decommissioning set

Fire bowl at Crystal Springs

Michigan Area United Methodist Camping has sold the Crystal Springs property to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Ceremonies will be held on September 12, 2-4 pm. Be present for this historic moment.

Crystal Springs Camp & Retreat Center in Dowagiac, MI, will be decommissioned as a United Methodist camp on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021, at 2-4 pm. The public is invited to attend. The historic camp has been host to over 160 years of revivals, family camps, summer camps, weddings, retreats, and more. It is important to honor those memories and give time and space to returning sacred land to other uses.

Michigan Area United Methodist Camping, as part of its strategic plan for a more sustainable future of camp and retreat ministry in Michigan, sold Crystal Springs along with other properties over the last few years. The Camping Board of Directors and the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church wanted to sell to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, who did in fact purchase the land this summer. They own land adjacent to the camp.

“From a justice standpoint, the MAUMC Board wanted to sell to the Pokagon Band. It was the right thing to do. Before Europeans settled here, all of Michigan was Native American land,” explained Executive Director David Berkey. “We felt it was an important gesture toward restorative justice to return the land in this way.”

The United Methodist Commission on Native American Ministry, Bishop David Bard, and other Michigan Conference leaders will be involved in the decommissioning service.

Crystal Springs Camp, located at 33774 Crystal Springs St, Dowagiac, MI 49047, was founded in 1860. At the time of its closing in 2019, it was the oldest camp in the state and the second oldest Methodist camp in the United States.

Michigan Area United Methodist Camping is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to create transformative camp and retreat experiences that develop disciples of Jesus Christ. The sale of Crystal Springs and its other properties will go a long way toward upgrading the remaining facilities to provide quality experiences for all who use them. These include Lake Huron Retreat Center (Burtchville), Lake Michigan Camp & Retreat (Pentwater), and Wesley Woods Camp & Retreat Center (Dowling). Learn more at www.umcamping.org.

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