Places like the Christine Center evoke a lot of emotions. Here, the richness of the Earth blends with the service of its stewards, the love of our guests, and the pervasive divine presence to create an aura that welcomes you, embraces you, and enriches you. For me, this sacred place is my sacred cause, and I feel called—even compelled—to nurture the Christine Center, to strengthen it so that it will continue for as long as we can imagine to provide opportunities for spiritual deepening.
In business terms, that means “sustainability.” By sustainability, I mean that our operating revenue equals our operating expenses. Put another way, our services bring in as much money as it costs to provide them: a dollar in, a dollar out.
Not long before I arrived here, the Christine Center Board of Directors commissioned a sustainability study by the Baker Tilly CPA firm. Boiled down to their essence, the recommendations of the study said two things: 1) increase the center’s sleeping capacity by 20 beds, and 2) create online programming options so that we can reach people who cannot reach us. We’ve taken initial steps toward both.
The June purchase of the Wedges Creek 10 acres made possible the addition of two rustic hermitages and the adaptation of Basil, one of our modern hermitages, gaining us three additional sleeping spaces. Construction on Basil has begun, and the extra beds will be available before July.
The purchase of the equipment we will need to film, record, edit and broadcast online programming has also begun. We expect to begin offering this programming in the coming fiscal year.
Of course, this is just the start, and other modifications will need to be made to accommodate our growth. We’ll need to expand our dining area and parking space, build new hermitages, upgrade some current hermitages to provide privacy and modern amenities, and, of course, evolve the beloved old barn into something new and wonderful.
As happens often at the Christine Center, manna has been falling from heaven just as we started this journey: the Wedges Creek property became available, a grant made its purchase possible, another grant made the broadcasting equipment purchase possible, and our weekend retreat schedule is booked solid through the calendar year (and now mid-week meetings are booking, too).
So many blessing are flowing so quickly that it’s breathtaking. Yes, the staff is working at an incredible pace, but it’s as if we’re striving to keep up with the spirit that is driving us forward. Sister Delmarie, a member of our board, is fond of reminding us that we’re not in charge here, and her words are ringing true. We’re just answering the call.
We can’t do it alone, however, we need you. We’ll need volunteers, we’ll need your voices to spread the word, we’ll need your help in raising money, and we’ll need visionary, enthusiastic leaders on our committees and board. We who love this sacred place are all in it together, and together we will carry the Christine Center into the future.