3. Properties and Real Estate
Vermont is blessed with a wide array of natural beauty: tree-shrouded mountains, clean lakes, burbling streams, peace-filled pastures, and the rolling roads that connect them all. The Episcopal Church has been blessed as well with the legacy of our forebears who saw this beauty as worth preserving for future generations, both land and buildings. We have inherited the beauty of God’s creation, and for that we are grateful and attentive to the necessity to be good stewards of Creation Care for those yet to come.
ROCK POINT COMMONS
Rock Point is a 130-acre property on Lake Champlain in the City of Burlington, which has been owned by the Diocese of Vermont since 1855. The institutions of Rock Point Commons include Rock Point School, the Bishop Booth Conference Center, Rock Point Camp, the Diocesan Offices and the Bishop’s Residence. The property has many hiking trails, a community garden, a pollinator garden, and a solar orchard that provides for all the electricity that is needed. The vision of Rock Point Commons is to be a welcoming sanctuary of spirituality, creativity, community, education, training and environmental stewardship.
Diocesan stewardship of Rock Point Commons to preserve the land, the institutions and the buildings has included two recent major fund-raising efforts (one within the diocese and one in the community outside the church), and a development of community partnerships (see www.rockpointvt.org). All of these efforts have allowed the establishment of a conservation easement to preserve and manage the land going forward. The Rock Point Board is tasked with business planning and recently commissioned a Strategic Land Use and Management Planning Report to address ways for Rock Point Camp and the Bishop Booth Conference Center to become fiscally independent, and possibly grow to generate income for the diocese. By Canon, the Bishop serves ex officio on the Rock Point Board and currently serves as President of the Board as provided for in the Rock Point Board Bylaws.
Rock Point School is a fully accredited independent co-ed high school serving both boarding and day students who find success in the small, structured environment. They are creative, self-aware young people who have found themselves off track and are ready to make positive changes to build fulfilling, healthy lives. The school is based on the principles of honesty, sobriety, care for self and care for others. The ratio between staff and students is 1:2. Rock Point School is managed by its own board, with the Bishop as ex officio Chair of the Rock Point School Trustees, by Canon. The school is accredited by NEASC and is fiscally independent and known to be successful in preparing students for college or post-secondary employment.
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Bishop Booth Conference Center is a venue for meetings and retreats with overnight accommodations of 60 beds in 17 rooms, a dining space for 70 with kitchen/food service, six meeting rooms, a chapel, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The location, surrounding woodlands and lake make it an inviting place for spiritual reflection, education, and collaboration. Its current customer base includes: conferences and retreats for religious and educational institutions, environmental groups, non-profit organizations, civic groups, family reunions/weddings, corporate retreats and diocesan gatherings.
Rock Point Camp marks its 87th summer, offering six weeks of overnight and day camp experiences for ages five through 17, and a seventh week for alumni, families and friends. The camp can accommodate up to 44 campers a week. It is a joyful place where friendships are made as community spiritual exploration meets outdoor adventure. Life at Rock Point Camp reflects its motto: “Caring for Creation, Neighbor, Self…and Having Fun!”
Rock Point Intentional Community is a spiritual community serving the vision of Rock Point. They are two years old, with a membership of about 70 people – Episcopalians, other faith traditions, none, or seeking. They care about increasing Rock Point’s capacity to serve, incarnating the Rock Point Board’s vision in a variety of ways, and undertaking initiatives to engage the vision.
The Diocesan Office and The Bishop’s Residence are also located on the Rock Point Commons property.
On this quiet bit of land in the ski community of Killington, you will find Church of Our Saviour, the rustic Heminway Guest House that can host up to 15 people, the Mission Farm Bakery, the vicarage, and over 170 acres of woods, gardens, fields and trails that encompass river and mountain hillsides. The Church of Our Saviour was built in 1895 by Elizabeth Wood Clement on the site of her father’s homestead and given to The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, along with the accompanying buildings and land. Today the people of the parish and its vicar are working to build new partnerships with groups in the surrounding communities, as well as with The Episcopal Church in Vermont, to make their physical and spiritual resources known and available to a wider audience. Mission Farm is not only a memorial of the past but an invitation for discerning its potential in the future, promoting unique social, educational, spiritual, artistic and land-based activities.
BROOKHAVEN TREATMENT AND LEARNING CENTER
Brookhaven offers a multi-disciplinary residential treatment environment for boys, ages six through 13, who present with severe emotional and behavioral challenges stemming from abuse, neglect and effects of the opioid epidemic. Brookhaven is committed to providing these young boys with a therapeutic environment that promotes safety, structure, and the opportunity to heal and transition back into the community and family. Owned by the Diocese of Vermont and located in Chelsea, Brookhaven is licensed as an independent school by the State of Vermont and has a Family Retreat. Brookhaven is fiscally independent and managed by its own board elected at diocesan convention, with the Bishop as an ex officio member.
OTHER REAL ESTATE
In addition to the above, The Episcopal Church in Vermont owns over 100 pieces of property including churches, rectories and many additional small parcels separate from these. The Trustees of the Diocese of Vermont hold Title to most of the Episcopal Church properties. Planning and management of these properties varies from the complex and accomplished work at Rock Point, to high hopes but still nascent dreams for future improvements at Mission Farm. Each parish manages its own buildings. Many of our parishes are housed in historic church buildings. Some congregations are tremendously stretched by the maintenance needs of their aging and long-beloved buildings. Even our largest churches are working on new and better ways to use and maintain their buildings to support their missional work, as reflected in the Urban Cathedral Study Group Report mentioned earlier.
At this time there is no overall real estate management plan for the diocese, but it is a recognized issue worthy of attention. Over the past decades, a few parish churches have been deconsecrated, and a few have combined their congregations.