Food for Thought: Experiencing Love and Justice at Alton L. Collins Retreat Center

December 03, 2018


Reflections on the Seven Foundations for Camp & Retreat Ministries

 Foundation 7: Inspire and Equip All Guests To Do Love and Service

By Dan Benson, Site Director of Alton L. Collins Retreat Center 

People come to Alton L. Collins Retreat Center to do their work; prayer, meditation, meeting, crafting, etc., but if you ask most of them, they will tell you that they come back for the food.
Gracious hospitality is a core concept that shapes our ministry, and the meals that we serve are a critical component of that hospitality. The meal options are tailored to meet the needs of our various guests, to ensure that there is no need to worry about whether they will have something safe for them to eat. The meals themselves are designed to be flavorful and healthy so that guests can enjoy the meal and feel good both during and after the meal.
So it is appropriate that the meals are instrumental in the way that we inspire and equip lives for love and justice. Therefore, it has been the practice at Collins to serve meats that have a smaller impact on the earth; from animals that both take less energy to feed and produce less pollution in their growth. We are expanding this practice to serve meat that is humanely raised, as well as preparing more fruits and vegetables that have no pesticides used in production. This is a key way that we speak about ecological justice three times a day to our guests. We offer the guests a firsthand experience of foods that are subtly, but wonderfully different due to these changes; and people envision using these same foods when they return home. This is how we inspire and equip lives for food justice.
Foundational to this sense of justice, is love. If you have had a meal at Collins, you have heard our chefs talk about the food they have prepared for you. You can tell from their faces, their voices, and from the details that they use, that this is also a labor of love for them. The chefs pour the work of their hands and the love of their hearts into the food that they prepare; and they invite you to partake in their loving craft. Again, you are encouraged to find ways to engage in food with love in your hearts as you go back home inspired by what you have received on retreat.
At Alton L Collins Retreat Center, we strive to provide outlets for love and justice that you can really sink your teeth into, and that you discover passion for implementing these ideals through your daily bread.




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A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon