Catawba to manage Black Lake Conference Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 2, 2012

Thanks to a new $1 a year lease agreement between Catawba College and the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ, Catawba will assume management of the 306-acre Black Lake Conference Center in Asheboro. The property is located adjacent to the N.C. Zoological Park in Asheboro.
According to Catawba College Chaplain and Senior Vice President Dr. Ken Clapp, the agreement has the potential to benefit all parties involved. Under the terms of it, Black Lake will again be available to people of the Southern Conference for camps for children and youth, retreats for groups of all ages, special day events and celebrations, family outings, meetings and new programs to be developed by the College. Catawba students will have access to a living laboratory where they can apply the skills they learn in the classroom.
Since Catawba is only one of five institutions in the U.S. to offer a program that prepares students for a vocation in outdoor ministries, the conference center will be especially important in providing them experiential learning opportunities. In time, people of the United Church of Christ will benefit as these students assume leadership positions with other outdoor ministry sites throughout the denomination and beyond.
“This is a win-win situation for both the College and the Southern Conference,” Dr. Clapp explained, recalling that the Southern Conference came very close to selling this facility that was built and supported by some of the same people who have been most supportive of the college over the years.
Before assuming his current role at Catawba in 1989, Clapp served for 10 years as executive director of Blowing Rock Conference Center, then known as Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds. He helped lead that facility back from the brink of bankruptcy and developed it into a thriving, year-round ministry serving thousands of UCC members.
“Although we have developed a management plan that provides for this facility to be self-sustaining by the end of the third year of this agreement, we will be looking to individuals in the Southern Conference for support of this endeavor. A number of people and churches already have stepped forward and pledged support,” Clapp said.
At its November meeting, the Southern Conference Board of Directors voted unanimously to enter into the agreement that will allow ownership of the property to continue with the Conference, while Catawba assumes responsibility for the operation of the facility and for related costs. The Catawba College Board of Trustees, upon the recommendation of its Building and Grounds Committee, voted to approve the agreement at its February meeting.