UPC Congregational Retreat

2024 Retreat: Press Pause

September 6-8
Montreat, NC

$90 per adult (ages 12+) plus lodging
$70 per child (ages 5-11) plus lodging
$55 per child (ages 4 and under) plus lodging

Registration Deadline: August 6
(but we strongly encourage early registrations to guarantee housing and get your first choice for workshops!)

Retreat Schedule

Friday Night

6:30-8:00pm: Registration & Community Building
8:00-9:00pm: Opening Gathering
9:00pm: Late night in the Lobby

(Childcare, birth-preK, provided 8:30-12:15, 1:30-3:30)
7:30 – 8:30am:  Breakfast
8:45 -10:00am: Keynote
10:00 -10:45am: Chatter Groups
10:45am – 12:00pm: Workshops
12:00 – 1:00pm: Lunch
1:45 – 2:20pm: Keynote
2:30 – 3:15: Chatter Groups
3:15 – 6:00pm: Free time
6:00 – 7:00pm: Dinner
7:15 – 8:15pm: Barn Dance (no evening childcare)
8:15 – 9:15pm: Campfire

Sunday Morning
(Childcare, birth -preK, provided 9:30-11:45)
7:30-8:30am: Breakfast
9:30am: Group Picture – Assembly Inn front steps
9:45-10:00am – Chatter Groups
10:15am – Worship


*Note – lodging fees are separate from retreat fees*

Lodging is available at Assembly Inn, which has hotel-like accommodations, as well as a dining room and group meeting space. When you register, you can choose a private bath or an adjoining bath (fees differ for each). Space is limited, so register early!

Lodging Options in Assembly Inn (for two nights):

  • Two rooms, connecting bath: $360
  • One room, private bath (various bed sizes available): $210
  • Second adult staying in room: Free
  • Child(ren) (birth-5th grade) staying in room with parent(s): Free
  • Youth (6th grade and older) staying with another youth in Assembly Inn: $105

We don’t want cost to be a barrier to participation; scholarships are available to help offset the cost. If financial assistance would allow you to participate in the retreat, please fill out a request form, or email a staff member. All scholarship requests are kept confidential.

Keynote Speaker, Michelle Thomas-Bush

Michelle Thomas-Bush is Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Michelle brings a wealth of knowledge about mindfulness and mental health and is a well known leader and retreat speaker in the PC(USA).

Saturday Morning Workshop Choices

Infants – Pre-Kindergarten
This age group will spend time together playing and enjoying the company of other UPC children.  Parents of 4-year-olds can register their child for this group or can choose a workshop below that is open to 4-year-olds that might fit their child’s developmental stage.
Facilitators: Montreat Staff
Location: Updike Child Care Building

Whether you are a beginner or have frequently worked with clay, you can create a wonderful keepsake of the weekend.  If you want to do another morning workshop, the pottery studio will be available for pottery fun during our afternoon free time for all ages (with a parent present).
Facilitator: Sarah Peters
Location: Currie Craft Center, Upper level
Open to 6th grade and older (younger artists can enjoy pottery with their parents during the afternoon free time)

Fused Glass 
Fused glass is done by putting together pieces of special glass and placing them in a kiln so the glass melts together to form the final product. Participants in this workshop will be able to use their creative “juices” to make either an ornament or a sun catcher.  There is no glass cutting involved – it will all be cut.  You do not need any special skills – just the desire to come and be creative! 
Facilitator: Carol Wilhelmi
Location: Currie Craft Center, Lower Level
Open to 4th grade and older (4th and 5th graders will be matched with an adult buddy if parent is not present.)

Exploring the History of Montreat (Presbyterian Heritage Center)
This is an opportunity for members of the community to learn about the history of Montreat and share stories about their own experiences. Montreat’s Presbyterian Heritage Center will be open for our group and will do a PowerPoint on Montreat history.
Facilitator: Jamie Bryan & Heritage Center Staff
Location: Presbyterian Heritage Center
Open to 6th grade and older

Scavenger Hunt
Have fun with your church family while testing your knowledge of key places around the heart of Montreat!  Clues will lead you from place to place. 
Facilitator: Karen Vandersea
Location:  Gather in upper lobby of Assembly Inn by the fireplace
Open to all ages; Kindergarten and younger should have a parent present

Creek Exploration
Come explore nature, wade in the creek, and maybe we will even try our hand at fishing! You will want to wear shoes that can get wet.
Facilitator: Donald McMillan
Location: Gather in upper lobby of Assembly Inn by the piano.
Open to all ages; children 8 and under will need a parent with them.

Labyrinth & Prayer Practices
Facilitator: Hadley Kifner
Location: The Barn
Open to 6th grade and older

Gentle Peace Walk/Gate Trail 
This is an easy walk from the lake to the gate along Flat Creek.  There are nature information placards along the trail that discuss what may be seen along the trail.  Total length is 1.9 mi out and back.
Facilitator: TBA
Location: Gather in lower lobby by front desk
Open to all ages (but not stroller friendly)

Guided Meditation
Participants will be guided in a quiet meditation involving your own imagination and a scripture passage. Group discussion of the experience will follow the meditation.
Facilitator: Cotton Bryan
Location: Lakeside Meeting Room (2nd floor, facing the lake)
Open to 6th grade and older

Come “press pause” with your body!  All levels welcome.  Participants should bring  a yoga mat or towel.
Facilitator: TBA
Location: Assembly Inn 1 & 2 (to the right of front desk)
Open to 6th grade and older

Group Games & Team Building
In this workshop we will learn some fun new games to play as a group, grow closer to each other as we engage in a variety of team building activities, and just have plain old fun together! If you enjoy laughs, activity, and recreation, this is the workshop for you!
Facilitator: Tristan Wall
Location: Convocation Hall
Open to 4th grade and older

Pause and Paint
Facilitator: TBA
Location: Jeffery Room (234)
Open to 4th grade and older

Saturday Afternoon Free Time Options

Hiking Lookout– Hike up Montreat’s famous Lookout Mountain. It’s a moderate hike, about 45 minutes up and 30 minutes down with great views of the valley.  The first part of the trail is a gentle uphill slope through an area rich with wildflowers. For those who wish to continue to the top, be prepared for challenging steep slopes and some scrambling up boulders for the 700 ft. elevation gain. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view. Bring water and be prepared for the weather. Many additional trails are available. Find a trail map at check-in!

PotteryCreate your own Montreat keepsake out of clay. Open to all ages during free time, although children in 5th grade and younger must be accompanied by a parent. Currie Craft Center, upper level.

Football Game – Cheer on the Tar Heels in the Lobby area at game time.

Black Mountain Trip – Would you like to go with a group to explore Black Mountain? Sign up in the Lobby.

Sabbath – Take a holy nap in your room or have some good conversation with friends on a Montreat porch. Take extra time to recharge your batteries.

a group sitting on a bench eating ice cream in Black Mountain
a group sitting on a bench eating ice cream in Black Mountain

Retreat FAQ

Q: Is this retreat for families only?

A: No! UPC members of all ages and stages of life attend the congregational retreat. This event is a chance for all in our church to spend time in community together. We have options that everyone can enjoy no matter your age, and we’ve found that unique bonds are created across many generations during this weekend.

Q: How are the accommodations?

A: We sleep in the Assembly Inn hotel, which was recently renovated. It’s a beautiful stone building at Montreat Conference Center, where they cater to all ages and have all the creature comforts we’re used to having.

Q: How’s the food?

A: Montreat’s Galax Dining Room offers a variety of options at meals. There’s always a bountiful salad bar. If you have concerns about allergies, please note it in your registration, and we’ll make sure you have specific allergen information.

Q: I’m not sure we can afford to attend. Is there financial assistance?

A: We have a retreat scholarship fund to help with costs. We will work with you to determine how we can best meet your family’s needs when covering lodging and retreat costs; there’s no special formula. Click here to fill out a request form, or you may email a church staff member. We will communicate with each family on an individual, confidential basis.