Winter Peace Retreat at Spruce Lake

Children of Abraham: Christian and Muslim

February 8-10, 2008 (Friday-Sunday)
Canadensis, PA (in the Poconos)

Adult Program

Youth Program

Childrens Program




Other Info.


Contact Us

Family retreat with separate programs for adults, youth, and children, sponsored by The Peace and Justice Committee, Eastern District Conference and Franconia Mennonite Conference of the Mennonite Church USA.

Adult Program:

Christian-Muslim Dialogue:
Stories of Faith, Hope, and Peace

with Wally and Evie Shellenberger

Throughout history walls of misunderstanding and suspicion have been built between Muslims and Christians. Two religions, both rising from Abraham, and who worship the same God, have fought wars and continue to fight in various ways. This retreat invites us to take part in the work of breaking down walls between Muslims and Christians.

Evie & Wally Shellenberger lived in Iran from 2001-2004, invited there by MCC to be part of a student exchange program. Their assignment was to build friendships and relationships with the Iranian Muslims, to be involved in religious dialogue and to be a Christian presence. They have returned to Iran yearly thereafter to lead learning tours. Evie and Wally have spoken extensively about Islam and Iran to North Americans, in an effort to promote peace & understanding between Christians and Muslims.

The Shellenbergers were married in 1965, after which they did medical work in Nigeria under Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Board of Missions (during part of this time the Biafran civil war raged). After more medical training and employment, they, along with a group of other medical colleagues, moved to Southern Indiana to set up a health care system for people in two rural, poor counties, where they worked for 28 years. In 2001, the Shellenbergers retired and have since been volunteering for service within the Mennonite Church. The Shellenbergers attend Paoli Mennonite Fellowship in Paoli, Indiana.

The Shellenbergers hope that participants in the Winter Peace Retreat will gain more insight into the faith of Islam and respect for Muslims. Another goal is to enlarge our understanding of what "dialogue" with someone from another faith entails, and that the necessity for dialogue with Muslims is vital if we ever hope to achieve peace.

Youth Program:

Living with Diversity
with Scott Hutchinson

Scott Hutchinson is pastor at St. Andrew's UCC in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. For much of his life Scott has been deeply committed to peacemaking and nonviolence. He has served as a peace educator for youth and adults in many diverse settings. Scott was a counseling professional for thirteen years prior to entering local church ministry, working with people of all ages. He served as a Witness for Peace volunteer in a war zone in Nicaragua,
and was a UCC Mission Partner with churches in El Salvador during times of extreme political violence and war. In recent years Scott has taught classes in The Study and Practice of Peace and the Transforming Power of Forgiveness. In the fall of 2007 he is teaching a course on Martin Luther King, Jr. at Moravian College and Seminary in Bethlehem.

Scott is involved with the group Teens Acting for Peace, which mentors teens in the principles and skills of peacemaking, so that these teens in turn may then serve as peace educators for younger children. Scott hopes that the youth will find their time together to be stimulating and interactive as they together consider the Jesus of the gospels, who offers a generous, lifegiving way of embracing our many neighbors, and also the fullness of ourselves. "We may be surprised to discover that it is our similarities that cause problems in relating to one another, while the diversity among us can truly be God's gift."

Child Care/Children's Activities

We will provide child care and activities for children up to age 12 during the adult sessions. We also appreciate parents or other adults who would like to help out with one or more of the children's sessions.


Spruce Lake Retreat Center, RR#1, Box 605, Canadensis, PA 18325. (570) 595-7505.
Spruce Lake Retreat is located 2.5 miles north of Canadensis on PA Rt. 447, in the Pocono Mountains.

Preliminary Schedule

Friday, February 10
7:00 PM Check-in
8:00 PM Opening program for All
Music, sharing of peace stories
9:30 PM Snack*
11:00 PM Bedtime (Quiet)
Saturday, February 11
8:00-8:30 AM Breakfast
9:00 AM First Adult Session and Youth Session
12:00-12:30 PM Lunch
12:30 PM Free Time**
5:30-6:00 PM Dinner
7:15 PM Second Adult Session and Youth Sessions
9:30 PM Snack*
11:00 PM Bedtime (Quiet)
Sunday, February 12
8:00-8:30 AM Breakfast
9:00-10:30 AM Final Adult and Youth Session
10:45 AM Worship Service with Communion
(adults,youth, & children)
12:15-12:45 PM Lunch

*Please bring bagged snacks (cookies, pretzels, chips, etc) to share with others during the evenings. You are also encouraged to bring your own mug for snack times or coffee during the program sessions.
**During "Free Time" on Saturday afternoon there will be videos and discussion time (on peace issues) as an alternative to outdoor recreation.

  • After Sunday lunch you and your family may stay for more recreation or head for home.
  • Weather permitting, the following winter recreational activies are available at Spruce Lake: cross-country skiing with ski rental, tubing, and ice-skating (bring your own skates).

    Registration Information

    [Printable Registration Form]

    Please plan to register early; space is limited. Sometimes we have had to turn away families because of the space limitation.

    Most rooms accomodate up to four people (a double bed and a bunk bed with private bath), and one or two additional family members may be accomodated in the same room on the floor if you wish to bring sleeping bags for them. Single adults who wish to room together should send in their registration forms together, otherwise they will be paired with other singles if space is limited.

    Cost to Participants:

    $135.00 Adults
    $40.00 Children (Ages 6-12)
    $65.00 Youth (Ages 13-18)
    Children under 6 are free!
    This year it will be possible to register for the Saturday program only; check with us for details and cost.

    --------------------- Registration Form ------------------------------

    City, State___________________________________ZIP____________
    Child's Name              Age                        Sex
    ____Adults @ 135.00 each    __________
    ____Children @ $40.00 each  __________  
    ____Youth @ $65.00 each     __________  
           (Additional donation __________ )      
                 Amount Enclosed___________
         Amount Due at Check-in _____________________
    [It is possible for adults to register for only the Saturday 
    program; cost is $35, including lunch and supper. Check with
    us for additional details.]
    Make checks payable to:
                       Eastern District Conference
    Mail this registration form to:
         Becky Felton
         942 Camp Trail Road
         Quakertown, PA 18951 
    Registration deadline is January 16, 2008
    Any questions?  Need more information? 
    Call  Becky Felton, 215-536-7935,  E-mail:
      or  Robert Walden, 610-861-0653, E-mail:

    Financial Information

    Our registration rates are listed on the registration form above, but the actual cost of the retreat is substantially greater than what the participants pay. The difference is made up with funds from the Eastern District / Franconia Peace and Justice budget. Registration charges cover personal expenses for lodging and meals, but not our program costs such as honorariums, travel, and accomodations for our presenters, publicity, and other miscellaneous expenses.

    Your donations are much appreciated since they allow us to provide scholarships for low-income families or individuals.

    Some financial help is available for those who find it difficult to pay the amount we charge. We want to enable as many people as possible to attend this retreat. (Contact Bob Walden, 610-861-0653.)

    If you have dietary restrictions or require other special accomodations (e.g., diabetic, or vegitarian, or difficulty climbing stairs, etc.) please include information about your needs.

    Camp Policies

    • Public areas and recreation areas are to be vacated by 11:00 PM. All areas are to be quiet after this time.
    • We strongly object to smoking. Under no circumstances is anyone permitted to smoke in any rooms of any building.
    • Pets are not permitted.
    • Guests are requested to leave their shirts on while at camp.
    • Use of alcoholic beverages is not permitted.
    • Motorized recreational vehicles (minibikes, snowmobiles, etc.) must be registered at the camp office before using them on the grounds.
    • Electrical appliances, such as electric fry pans, are not permitted.
    • Radios, tape players, etc. are permitted only in rooms designated for your group and only with the volume low. They are not permitted in public areas or outside.


    • More about Wallie and Evie Shellenberger:
    • A Common Word Between Us and You
        In an open letter titled A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 prominent Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals (including imams, ayatollahs, grand muftis, and sheikhs) have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam.
      • The website contains extensive background information, including Christian and Jewish responses.
      • A Common Word Between Us and You Document
        (HTML format, without list of addressees and signatories).
      • A Common Word Between Us and You Complete Document
        (29 pages, PDF format).
    • What did the Pope say about Islam?
      The Mennonite, February 20, 2007 (p.18)
    • A Thousand and One Egyptian Nights: An American Christian's Life Among Muslims by Jennifer Drago

      Two years after September 11, 2001, many Christians and others in the west had turned a cold shoulder and a blind eye to Muslims in the Middle East. Jennifer Drago and her family saw things differently. They heard a radical call, one that would uproot them from their life and work with refugees in the United States and plant them among conservative Muslims in Egypt. Jennifer recounts the challenges and rewards of this eye-opening journey into the heart of the Islamic world, where she and her family lived not as Americans in Egypt, but as Christians among Muslims.
      (2007. paperback, 304 pages, $12.99)

    • Christian Faith & Islam: Toward Christian-Muslim Friendship.
      The Mennonite, June 5, 2007 (pp.8-15)

  • For more information about the Peace and Justice Committee, see

  • Contact webmaster:

    Last Updated: 11/25/07
    Created: September 8, 2007