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Emerson to retire at year’s end

Camp director with campers

Deacon Ann Emerson reflects on retiring after serving as Director of the Lake Huron Retreat Center for over two decades.

Michigan Conference Communications

This year marks almost 25 years of leadership at the Lake Huron Retreat Center by Rev. Ann Emerson. She will retire at the end of 2023. For Ann, Lake Huron has been a fitting place to live out her calling as an Ordained Deacon.

Ann’s ministry includes over 40 years of service in the church, first as a Lay Person, then as a Consecrated Diaconal Minister, and for the past 25 years as an Ordained Deacon. In 1998, Ann was a member of one of the first classes of Diaconal Ministers to be ordained to the Order following its creation in 1996.

In January 1999, Ann was hired as the Director at Lake Huron. It was a unique opportunity because the site had been decommissioned as a camp two months earlier, and for her first year, the property was closed while major renovation took place. She said, “I didn’t know anything about construction, but immediately I was involved in the building of Littleton Lodge and the renovation of Kresge and Ragland Halls, made possible through the ‘Pass It On’ campaign of the Detroit Conference.” Lake Huron opened as a retreat center in January 2000, and Ann went to work creating a new ministry in a new space anchored in the long history of camping at the site.

When asked about the ministry of Lake Huron, Ann said it could be summarized in one word — hospitality. “First, there is the unspoken hospitality,” she said. “That means providing a clean, comfortable, beautiful space with good food and an attractive campus where groups can come and achieve their goals — spiritual retreats, study, work, whatever they need to do.” The spoken hospitality is carried on by the staff who graciously exemplify true Christian hospitality in how they welcome and relate to our guests.” Specifically, she referred to the God’s Treasures Camp for adults with special needs, which attracts over 80 guests annually. “For me,” she said, “it is the high point of the year.”

Reflecting on the work of Deacons, Ann says, “One of the things I have loved about the role of the Deacon is the variety of ministries afforded us. Social work, retreat ministry, music, health care, local church — the Deacon is committed to taking the church into the world.” At Lake Huron, one of the ways they do that is by their Food for God’s People collection. Guests are invited to bring food or paper goods donations, which are then distributed through local charities and Cass Community Social Services in Detroit. “Since 2007,” Ann reports, “our guests have donated over 30,000 items! It’s a way of connecting our guests and the center with the needs of the world . . . and that’s the role of the Deacon.”

As Ann retires, she hopes the new director will carry on the passion for Christian hospitality and excellent care for the facilities while bringing a fresh vision of new possibilities. She will be moving to Columbus, OH, and will continue living out her calling as a Deacon through her ministry with Educational Opportunities.

The Michigan Conference celebrates the work of the Lake Huron Retreat Center, the retirement of Deacon Ann Emerson, and the ongoing ministry of connecting the church with the world through the Order of Deacon.

Last Updated on January 31, 2024

The Michigan Conference