UPC Congregational Retreat

2023 Retreat: Woven Together

September 8-10
Montreat, NC

$85 per adult (ages 12+) plus lodging
$65 per child (ages 5-11) plus lodging
$50 per child (ages 4 and under) plus lodging

Registration Deadline: August 6
(but we strongly encourage early registrations to guarantee housing!)

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, Rodger Nishioka

The Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka believes that because God created us all for relationship, discovering how to follow Jesus Christ happens best in community. He currently serves as Co-Pastor at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Springs, KS. Born in Honolulu and raised in Seattle at the Japanese Presbyterian Church, he has also taught at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta as the Benton Family Professor of Christian Education and was director of youth and young adult ministries for the Presbyterian Church (USA). Rodger is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University (BA), McCormick Theological Seminary (MATS), and Georgia State University (PhD.). The son of a minister, he is evidence that you can be a pastor’s kid and still love Jesus and the church.​

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

Weaving of Our Community
An interactive, hands-on workshop that explores what it means to be part of God’s community. Together participants will weave using a variety of materials – including yarn, t-shirt strips, paper strips (with messages or from discarded books, music, etc), items from nature – to create a visual representation of their own unique contribution to the fabric of the community.
Facilitators: Robin Thomas and Jane Darter
Location: Jeffrey Room (234)
Open to all ages; Kindergarten and younger should have a parent present

Sharing Our Stories of Montreat while Exploring the History of Montreat
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.
Facilitators: Jamie Bryan and Lisa Lord
Location: Presbyterian Heritage Center
Open to 6th grade and older

Ultimate Frisbee
Come learn the basic rules of Ultimate Frisbee, participate in a few drills to work on skills, and then scrimmage with friends.
Facilitator:  Scott Singleton
Location:  Moore Center Field (rain plan: The Barn)
Open to 4th grade and older

Pottery  **this workshop is currently full**
Whether you are a beginner or have frequently worked with clay, you can create a wonderful keepsake of the weekend working with clay.  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.
Facilitator: Sarah Peters
Location: Currie Craft Center, Upper level
Open to Kindergarten and older (younger artists can enjoy pottery with their parents during the afternoon free time)

Fused Glass  **this workshop is currently full**
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.)

Guided Meditation
In this workshop, participants will be guided in a quiet meditation that will weave together your own imagination and a scripture passage. Group discussion of the experience will follow the meditation.
Facilitator: Gordon Merklein
Location: Lakeside Room
Open to 8th grade and older

Prayer Path
The Prayer Path at Montreat is a walking pilgrimage with seven stations and a small labyrinth.  It combines ancient spiritual practices and physical movement to help participants experience God’s presence.
Facilitator: Hadley Kifner
Location: Gather in upper lobby of Assembly Inn by the TV
Open to all ages (but not stroller friendly)

Nature Walk/Photo Shoot  **this workshop is currently full**
This workshop will take place along the Montreat Gate path. 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 miles out and back.  The path is an easy, mostly flat and level dirt trail that is paved for a portion of it.  There is a short flight of stairs and a few single steps that hikers will need to climb. Along with the walk, we will ask participants to take photos of anything they find interesting or can capture or reflect on how we all are woven into God’s creation.  These photos will be uploaded and shared later in the day when we all gather.
Facilitator: Brian Vandersea
Location: Gather in Lower Lobby across from the Assembly Inn check in desk
Open to all ages (but not stroller friendly)

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


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!

Pottery – Work with a local potter to create your own Montreat keepsake out of clay. Open to all ages during free time, although children 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 accomodations?

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.