Retreat Center for Christian Leaders Under Reconstruction with New Hope

( [email protected] ) Jan 06, 2004 08:46 AM EST

CEDAR PINES PARK, Calif. — The Hilltop Renewal Center, a popular retreat center for Christian leaders, was once devastated because of the Southern California fires but now is ready to be rebuilt.

The Hilltop Renewal Center, located in the area of Cedar Pines Park, used to serve as the common retreat place for faculty, students and alumni at Biola and Talbot universities, and also many other Christian leaders. After the fires, the center totally lost its shape but now it is seeking financial assistance to be restored.

“The center now looks like a war zone,” Gene TenElshof of the Hilltop Renewal Center, said in a news release. “It looked like firefighters made an attempt to save the center from destruction, as burnt fire hoses were found laying in the driveway.”

TenElshof and his wife, Biola professor Dr. Judy TenElshof, serve as the president and executive director, respectively, of the retreat center.

The TenElshofs have reached a settlement with their insurance carrier, which will provide 70 percent of the reconstruction costs. To raise the rest of 30 percent of the funds, the center is planning to hold a benefit concert and golf tournament.

“The loss of Hilltop impacted Biola and Talbot in many ways,” Gene TenElshof said. “Several professors finished up their dissertations at Hilltop while others finished books at Hilltop. Hilltop was a place where God was very near.”

The rebuilding plans will include reseeding the mountain. Already, the volunteers have spreaded 350 bales of straw hay to help prevent erosion on the mountain.

“It will take a few years for the forest to come back, but we hope to break ground by next summer on the new facility,” TenElshof said.

Hilltop would likely to maintain its original facilities and continue serve as the meeting place for Christian leaders and God.

“We want the new center to continue to have a home-like feel to it,” he said. “The center’s goal is not to become large, but rather to stay small in order to keep the retreat feel and offer people a place of solitude.”