URSA, Ill. -- A year's worth of fundraising has culminated in the Sunday groundbreaking for a new bunkhouse at the Ursa Retreat House.
Seventeen local churches that co-own the Retreat House, founded in 1965, have each been holding fundraisers since late 2016 to finance $50,000 worth of upgrades to the property's aging buildings. Sunday's ceremonial moving of dirt kicks off the beginning of several upcoming projects for the 7-acre wooded campus.
"The construction of this new building helps demonstrate to the community and our youth the commitment our member churches have to continuing this wonderful retreat," Board President Brennan Reed said. "Without our member churches' financial and spiritual support, this new building --and, in fact, entire retreat campus -- would not be possible. It is our hope to continue to grow this retreat and that future generations will gather here and develop fond, long-lasting memories of their time at the Retreat House."
The new bunkhouse will be two stories and span 46 feet by 20 feet. The upper part of the building will house 28 campers and hold 14 bunk beds, while the lower level will be a concrete basement to be used for storage and also a refuge during inclement weather.
Reed expects construction to begin this week, and the board has a goal for the building to be completed by June
"It should only take about six weeks to construct. There's not too much that goes into it," he said. "We have plenty of time to finish."
Up next is fundraising to purchase the building's bunk beds. The final project, aside from minor property repairs and upgrades, is to demolish the current craft building and convert an existing bunkhouse into a new craft building.
The thought of maintaining the Retreat House for future generations has Reed excited.
"I feel that more than ever today's youth, as well as adults, need a sanctuary to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life," he said.
"People need a gathering place for Christian fellowship," Reed added, "and for youth to gather in a safe environment to learn about Christ, develop a model for Christian living, renew their spiritual life and vigor, and be outdoors where the wonders of God are all around."
Although member churchgoers are the retreat's primary users, the public is able to rent it. Private donations made to the Adams County Council of Churches are tax deductive.
Checks made out to Ursa Retreat House can be mailed to 1974 E. 1075 St., Mendon, IL 62351.