Regional News

Regional Board Approves UCCR Management of Crystal

October 19, 2018 Published by Neil Topliffe

With an overwhelming vote of approval last Saturday, October 13, at the Michigan Disciples Regional Board meeting, the Michigan Disciples approved United Camps, Conferences and Retreats (UCCR) becoming managers of Crystal Conference Center.

UCCR will formally assume management responsibilities January 1, 2019 for an initial contract of two years with annual renewal options going forward. They will provide onsite management during the Conference Center season April 1 to October 31 with year-round services of reservations/bookings, marketing, human resources and financial budgeting. UCCR already has been providing Crystal marketing services through 2018 and began providing booking/reservations services for outside groups, beyond our Disciples events, as of September 1.

Significant Change, Major Step Forward
“The camping programs at the Crystal Conference Center are a crucial ministry of the Christian Church in Michigan,” said Eugene James, Regional Minister. “Being good stewards of this marvelous gift is absolutely essential. The decision to enter into a management agreement with United Camps, Conferences and Retreats is a very important action to enable the needed growth and expand utilization to realize the full potential of this incredible space. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make this happen. Praise God.”

“United Camps, Conferences and Retreats looks forward to hosting guests at this beautiful conference center and as stewards of the property working with the Michigan Disciples of Christ,” said Mike Carr, CEO of UCCR. 

“Entering into this agreement with United Camps, Conferences and Retreats to manage Crystal Conference Center in 2019 should help strengthen our own Disciples camp programs,” noted Russ Tiller, Crystal Commission Chairperson. “In addition, it allows others to discover the beauty and serenity of Gods wondrous handy work of this sacred place.”

What will UCCR Provide?
• An on-site Director from early April through October to manage the Conference Center, assist camps and groups, and operate the facility
• Recruit and manage staff (kitchen, housekeeping, maintenance, skills courses, water safety/lifeguard, and general facilities staff assistants
• Maintain all required site licenses, and general maintenance of facilities
• Promote and market to non-profit groups, Disciples churches and members, organizations in northern and central Michigan, the use of Crystal for meetings, retreats, craft weekends, family reunions, and more
• Provide the booking and reservations process via 800 phone and email five days a week, year-round – excluding individual registration process for Michigan Disciples camps
• Maintain a Crystal Conference Center Facebook page and website
• Build and maintain a Crystal Management operating budget with constant monitoring

Camp Crystal camps & retreats remain ours
Michigan Disciples will continue its own outdoor ministry programs as it has for the past 100 years, having first option on our camp/retreat dates each year, given that we remain owners of the Crystal facilities.  This means:
• Crystal Commission of Michigan Disciples will continue to identify annual camp/retreat dates and registration fees and book our events with UCCR by November each year; Eight Disciples camps/retreats are set for 2019 
• Michigan Disciples will continue to recruit its camp deans and retreat leaders, train them and provide support for their events
• Registrations for Disciples Crystal Camps/Retreats will be managed through the Michigan Regional Office
• We will continue to recruit and assist volunteers to open and close Crystal without cost to volunteers – a significant cost savings to us, and sponsor work groups during the spring, summer and fall
• We will remain owners of Crystal year-round and manage the property in the off-season from November through March
• The Region will appoint two representatives to the UCCR Owners Council as our liaison members to the management organization, representing Crystal Commission and the Christian Church of Michigan.

The Board also gave approval to the 2019 Crystal Conference Center Rates and Fees for use of buildings and services to outside groups and Disciples members who book Crystal for events, camps, families, reunions, church retreats and more, during the summer months. Rates for group use remains similar to those applied in 2018. This rate chart is available at

Crystal Conference Center is a ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Michigan Region,

Disciples Pastors: Please share this information with your congregation, in your newsletter and on the bulletin board. Download the file below to print out this information.