THE CREST - The highest or culminating point; peak or a
device placed above the shield on a coat of arms.
Luther Crest was originally a boy’s camp, built by a man named Heinie Brock, who later became well-known for his ice-skating in the Ice Follies. In the fall of 1945, the Milaca-Glenwood-Fergus Falls Bible Camp Association bought the camp for $25,000, and the Luther Crest Bible Camp Articles of Incorporation were submitted to the State of Minnesota.
Camping ministry and a dream goes back beyond the pages of minutes and recorded history of Luther Crest. People of this area had camped on a rental basis at other camp properties. The need for Bible camping was felt and known by the people of the area. Youth was the primary target when the camp was bought. By the second summer, church women (WMF), the Zion Society for Israel and LBI were using Luther Crest.
In the summer of 1946, there were five weeks of Bible Camp scheduled. With the Fireside, Mini, Lodge and a few seasonal cabins, Luther Crest was launched.
With the need for a worship space, plans developed in 1950 to build a chapel.
By 1951, the Chapel had been constructed and was blessed.
By the summer of 1962, the plea for full-season counselors became a reality. Counselors were hired and a week of staff training was held. Camp Deans supplied the different programs and the lives of people were influenced by their camp experience. Seminary students were hired to be summer camp managers. They hired the staff, coordinated the program with the Camp Deans, supervised the counselors and managed the property of the camp.
The Retreat Center was used for some attempts at weekend retreats. It rented for just $30.00 a weekend and could house 30 people. Guests would bring their own food, lead their own program and do their own cooking.
Early in 1969, Pastor Will Bigott arrived at Luther Crest to be the first full-time, year-round Executive Director. That spring, the first year-round maintenance staff was added on a part-time basis.
In 1970 and 1971 a new retreat center was talked about. A firm proposal was to be presented at the annual meeting in 1972. However, at that time, Pastor Bigott left Luther Crest and shortly after, Pastor Ron Nielson was hired as Executive Director. Because of the change in Directors, the proposal was laid aside for a few years.
In October of 1974, a building proposal was approved for a new Dining Hall/Office Building. By this time, several cabins had been winterized for retreating.
The new facility began with ground breaking in 1977 and was dedicated on July 23, 1978.
Pastor Ron Nielson left Luther Crest in 1979.
In this vacancy, Cheryl Berg, Program Director, served as acting Director. Pastor Phil Heide was called to the position of Executive Director in 1980. He served in the position until 1984. During this time, the old “Horse Barn,” which had been converted into two cabins was torn down and two new winterized cabins were built.
By the mid-1980's year-round camping and retreating had become normal routine at Luther Crest. In 1985, Pastor Arden Norum was called to serve as Executive Director. Year- round camping and retreating had become normal routine at Luther Crest.
With increased summer camper numbers, and a unique and promising conversation, Luther Crest was blessed with the donation by Elroy Stock, Hoffman, MN, in 1990 of 59 acres of land north of Morris, MN on the Pomme de Terre River and the beginnings of Luther Crest West, a satellite site for specialty summer programs.
On February 11, 2001, a groundbreaking was held for a new Program Center, followed by a service of dedication that took place on August 12, 2001. This facility contains a large multipurpose gym, a storm shelter, an interpretive center for Environmental Education, bathrooms and a meeting room.
With increasing demands, staffing has also grown to meet these needs. In addition to an Executive Director, Luther Crest also had a Program/Assistant Director, Environmental Education Director, Food Service Manager, Office Manager, Property Manager, and other staff serving on full-time and part-time basis.
In 2003, Pastor Arden Norum retired.
In 2005, after a time with Interim Director Jerry Olstad, Marcus Anderson was brought on to be the Executive Director. Through Marcus' tenure, Luther Crest continued to offer incredible and life changing programs and also established its own Endowment Fund. Changing demographics and a church community fluctuating, Luther Crest needed to continue to foster a sense of innovation in order for its mission to continue to be relevant.
In 2007, Jerry Olstad returned as Interim Director.
On March 1, 2008, Luther Crest welcomed Executive Director David Holtz. With a staff willing to proceed and a cloud of witnesses behind them, Luther Crest has moved into a new vision of ministry. It is a consistent mix of great history with a sense of extreme innovation all in concert with Luther Crest's mission and the Missio Deo, or God's mission.
Since 2008, Luther Crest has re-established itself as a place focused on mission and the work of bringing people young and old into a deeper relationship with one another and with Christ.
2011 began Luther Crest's focus on the future with Vision 20/20, a comprehensive evaluation of site, facilities, staff and operations. A Master Site Plan was developed and research is being done to see how this plan can be implemented into the future. With the need for a full site renovation and remodel of all buildings and a growing number of participants throughout the year, this vision became real.
Beginning immediate care for Luther Crest's waterfront and storm water management began. May 1, 2012, was opening day of Project Confidence, Luther Crest's new high and low challenge course and the re-dedication of Luther Crest's environmental education program, Ground In! 2012 brought a 20% increase in day camp and onsite program from 2011 and continued work on outreach to the people of Minnesota and North Dakota. Continued work on Vision 20/20 continued with the development in 2012 of Luther Crest 21 Century Capital Campaign, Prepare the Way!
With the need of a full site makeover, dollars were raised to replace all the seasonal cabins. And in 2016, Luther Crest, along with the Mission Builders of the ELCA and a host of volunteers, constructed 4 new buildings featuring fully accessible bathrooms and showers, year round heating and cooling, and a new sense of community! These 10 new cabins increased our capacity by 100 new beds with comfortable inter-spring mattresses and a new green space was created for play right in camp.
In 2017, Luther Crest was proud to offer an expanded Dining Hall and renovated year-round Chapel as a part of our programming.
We look forward to the next steps as we continue to vision and work for the future. The history continues...each and everyday we are blessed beyond our capacity to understand - but know all is under God's care through his grace given to all of us in God's son Jesus Christ!
Luther Crest continues to be blessed by a premiere staff including over 60 Summer Staff from all over the country. We are also blessed to have a host of donors and volunteers who love Luther Crest and the mission we are in together.