The History of Edinboro Conference Grounds
Before the Christian and Missionary Alliance took on the Edinboro Camp and Retreat Center, their camp meetings were held at Lake Pleasant in 1949 and 1950 by the Rev. James Harper who was the pastor of the Erie Gospel Tabernacle. The first Lake Pleasant Camp Meeting was August 5-14, 1949 and they called it “Camp Meeting of the Christian & Missionary Alliance.” The cost to stay in a cabin for 10 days was $10 and $2.50 if you stayed in a tent. If you brought your own trailer, you could stay there for $1.00.
After the first year at Lake Pleasant, it was decided to try and purchase the Lake Pleasant land for ongoing camp meetings. However, the district, at that time, felt the price was too high. During the 1950 Camp Meeting, it was suggested they purchase “Camp Tecumsch” in Edinboro (our current site). So in January of 1951, a step of faith was taken to purchase the land which we currently own. The grounds had previously been called Camp Tecumsch which was a camp for girls. The first Edinboro Camp Meeting was held that summer. The Rev. William McCart was elected as the first president.
Camp Tecumsch was purchased from Fred Whipple, former Meadville mayor. The 53 acre camp consisted of two dormitories accommodating 30 persons each, a large shower building, a dining room seating 100 people, a 10 room farmhouse, and a barn. Of the 53 acres, 16 of that consisted of woodland. They changed the name of the camp to “North West Camp Meeting Association of the Western PA Distrit of the C&MA.” Later they began calling it “Edinboro Conference Grounds of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.”
God honored the faith of the founders and the debt for the land was paid in 1956. The Rev. D.C. Kopp, who was the District Superintendent of the W. Pa. District of the C&MA, participated in the mortgage burning service held during Family Camp of 1956.
The first Tabernacle (place of worship) was built in 1951 for the people to meet in for worship and evangelistic meetings. In 1961, under the direction of the second president, the Rev. Earl Docherty, the second tabernacle, known as Harper Hall, was built and dedicated to the Lord. That tabernacle became the place where many people surrendered their lives to the Lord. As time went on, God blessed the ministry of the camp and in 1985 the Third Tabernacle was built.
The Third Tabernacle became known as the “Adult Tab” and the Second Tabernacle became known as the “Youth Tab.” While Rev. Rockford Dillaman was serving as president, several new dormitories were constructed and walkways graveled. During the last service of Family Camp held in 1984 a Glory March Offering was taken and the indebtedness was liquidated.
As time continued, new facilities kept being added by the grace of God and some old buildings were being torn down. Some of our newest facilities are Loomis Lodge, our large eating place and retreat center, built in 1997 while Jim McDonald was Executive Director of the camp. Eventually, an in ground swimming pool was added at the camp in 2013. On March 3, 2015, the Adult Tab caved in from the weight of the snow. God was with us and put a new vision within our hearts for a new building that would function with multi-purposes. We currently have a 100 x 110 foot building with a stage, bathrooms, showers, and a large area for playing all kinds of different activities. The new building would be able to be used for Retreats, Sporting Events, Entertainment Events, Concerts, Seminars, Parties, Re-Unions and other creative ideas.
A large part of the ministry of Edinboro Camp has been to youth. Over the many years, many of them have yielded their lives to Christ and are in full time Christian work and serving in effective lay ministries. But God has used this camp to not only minister to young kids and teens, but also to adults. We look forward to how many more lives (youth and adults) will be impacted for Christ for the years to come.
Edinboro Camp has gone from being called “North West Camp Meeting Association of the Western PA Distrit of the C&MA,” later called “Edinboro Conference Grounds of the Christian and Missionary Alliance,” then to “Edinboro Conference Grounds,” but now we now call it “Edinboro Camp and Retreat Center.” Check out the website and see if you wouldn’t like to come and be a part of what God is doing! Hope to see you!