The History page is being built.
At this early stage there may be grammatical errors, major missing
components and the need for images. Much of the historical information
is taken from a document prepared by Tim Enander, first full-time director
of the Lutheran Bible Camp Association. We welcome corrections,
suggestions, additional stories and other names.
This story is about the early days and humble beginnings of Mount Cross Lutheran Bible Camp
in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
Beginning in the 1920s, Lutherans had been retreating at the Christian Conference Center at Mount Hermon–a camp a few miles from the present Mount Cross. Mount Hermon did not offer much of an opportunity for youth groups to get together; it was more of a family camp. So, a group of Lutheran pastors banded together to find a place to offer more opportunities for the youth. Much of the credit for establishing Mount Cross goes to Pastor Harold Brown and Pastor Kermit (Tim) Enander.
Every year for about 25 years, the Lutherans reserved a week or two at Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a Lutheran retreat camp. Pastor Brown said, “The second year I was there, I made a motion to form a committee to look for a site that the Lutherans could buy. They asked me to head up the committee. If I had realized all that was entailed in that position, I doubt if I would have had the courage to accept.”
They looked at over 200 sites. Pastor Brown shared, “We narrowed it down to a one-hundred acre site between Ben Lomond and Felton. It was adjacent to the highway, but set back from it. The San Lorenzo River ran by which could be used for swimming. An old fruit orchard could be leveled for a recreation field. An old, old redwood which the WRENS had used for R&R during World War II was on the property. It had a number of bedrooms, a kitchen, and a fairly large meeting hall with a huge stone fireplace. We negotiated with the real estate man who had bought it. We sent out a flyer to all the Lutheran churches in Northern California telling about a “Picnic with a purpose.” We wanted as many Lutherans as possible in on the final decision.”
Pastor Brown described the key organizational meeting held at Mount Hermon in July 1947. "The 'picnic with a purpose' was in May 1948, and the grounds were dedicated to the Glory of God as a great 'Lutheran Cathedral in the Redwoods' on Labor Day 1948. The first camp was held in June 1949.
Things were a little primitive at Mount Cross in those early days. Besides a caretaker’s cottage and a nearby work shed, there was a woodshed and the original large roomy home called the Lodge. It was constructed of perfect pieces of redwood lumber cut from old growth redwood trees.This area had been /logged off in the 1890’s for lumber to build San Francisco. One of those massive old growth trees stands above the San Lorenzo River where the river makes a bend. The Big Tree Trail leads to a view of this tree.
For more information, please take a look at the Then and Now publication written by Holly Lofgren and published by Thrivent in 2008.