Moving Forward – ARC Retreat Community Transition Plan (3/1/19)

by Mike Tessneer, Board Chair (763-516-6711) and Paul Halvorson Treasurer/Secretary (612-296-7407)

This Board-approved plan recognizes the many changes that have taken place in society and at ARC over the past 41 years and the need to examine them in a proactive & systematic way.  Discerning Question:“What can ARC do to continue to be a sacred place of welcome, hospitality, community and renewal?”


We recognize that, (a) Retreat reservations and accompanying revenues are in decline, (b) the quality of retreat experience has become inconsistent, and (c) maintaining an intentional on-site community that is life-giving and supportive of a healthy spiritual life is difficult to sustain.  This is prompting us to reflect upon how well we are meeting the needs of our guests and community, and what we can do or need to do to reverse these unsustainable trends.  This is the purpose of the Transition Plan: to refresh ARC’s mission, engage new leadership and restore our revenue stream and operational excellence.


The Transition Plan starts with listening to stakeholders—the community of individuals and groups that are invested in ARC’s future, particularly current and prospective guests and, of course long-time supporters and community members.  This process will be complete when we can articulate a vision that is compelling and viable.  Questions that need to be explored include: Are we doing the right things for the right audience?  Are we doing things that are not valued or relevant?  Exploring any gaps between who we are, and the expectations of prospective guests will inform ARC’s commitment of resources and sustainability.  This Process is organized into three components that are run concurrently:  

· Maintenance: Manage existing operations and maintain facilities while discerning the Strategic Plan and ensure that the internal organizational structure supports the Strategic Plan.  

· Strategic Plan:Through conversations, meetings & prayerful action, explore viable options with ARC stakeholders and new partners.  Articulate a renewed future for ARC with the resources, people, and organizational partners needed to facilitate its long-term sustainability. 

· Operational Plan:  The Strategic Plan will define the Operational Plan.


We seek to energize and galvanize people called and committed to a renewed ARC and use of the existing physical plant—the lodge, the cottage, the hermitage and 91 acres of sacred land with its 150-year old Grandy pines and operational components.

1.  Interim On-site Manager: The ARC Board will recruit an interim on-site manager to work with the current ARC community, staff and the Board during the next 3 months (March – May) or longer to ensure operations are efficient & effective.  

 2. The Nature and Nurture of Community in the ARC Experience: Determine the key components and structures needed to recruit, select and sustain a spiritual community at ARC.

· Assess the role of community (residential and extended) in the ARC experience and the tangible and intangible costs and benefits of intentional community.

· Evaluate how ARC can support a life-giving community experience and explore the creative tension between living in community and retreat ministry. 

· Research and recommend models and/or alternatives to an intentional community at ARC.

 3. Executive Director: ARC Board will recruit a leader committed to discerning, strategizing and implementing the future of ARC as a viable and sustainable operation.  This will be completed over the next 6 months as the Board determines the future of ARC by Summer 2019.

 4. Community and Stakeholder Engagement: Beginning in March 2019 initiate a forward-looking process to engage friends of ARC to discern and support the best outcome for ARC.


● Revisit ARC’s vision and secure new leadership and commitments from stakeholders.                                                 ● Explore other models of intentional residential community, like co-housing.                                                       ● Explore options and approaches with new partners in reshaping mission, purpose and program.                     

Other options (including shutting down after 42 years) may emerge as part of this process.

5. Board Recruitment: ARC Board will implement a Board recruitment plan to expand membership representing diverse background with one or more the following:

· Involvement with a spiritual organization

· Engagement with social justice

· Experience with living in an intentional community 

· Experience with new paradigms of spirituality

· Experience with building bridges across organizations and concerns (i.e., intersectionality) 

· Specialized knowledge (e.g., fundraising, financial, marketing, operations, legal, artistic)                 (Ideal candidates will have experience with more than one)

6. Fundraising: Build and implement a fund development process to cover additional costs of a 6 to 9 -month transition process and beyond based on the selected future of ARC.

7.  Board Accountabilities: ARC Board assignments for above initiatives:

1.       Assess & improve physical plant, plus utilize “LiveImpact” database: Item 1 - Scott

2.       Assess and improve operations and recruit interim operations manager: Item 1 - Paul

3.       Identify components and structures to build an intentional spiritual community:Item 2 – Paul

4.       Recruit Interim Development Director: Item 3 - Mike/Paul

5.       Assess possible use of ARC Lodge for alternate community housing: Item 4 - Bob

6.       Expand ARC Board membership: Item 5 - BoardMike/Paul

7.       Design enrollment process and fund development plan: Item 6 - Mike/Paul

We value your ideas, referrals, support and participation in one or more of the following ways:

1.  Updates and Events:Please email, if you would like to be on the ARC list for future updates.  We invite you to dialogue with us at an ARC Transitional Planning Events to be held in the Twin Cities and at ARC starting March through end of May. Details forthcoming.

2.  ARC Volunteers:  Join as a volunteer at ARC during the transition.  Contact: Suzanne Begin at Volunteer@ARCRetreat.orgor leave her a message at 678-525-6539

3.  Employment:If you have specific names of people to recommend, please refer them to the MN Council for Non-Profits Job Board for Interim Manager and Executive Director. 

4.  Board Members: If you or someone you know are interested in serving on the ARC Board, contact either Mike Tessneer, Chair (763-516-6711) or Paul Halvorson Secretary/Treasurer (612-296-7407).

5.  Participate in a working Group on an aspect of the Plan: Please contact either Mike Tessneer or Paul Halvorson or email

6.   New Ideas or potential organizational partners: Please contact either Mike Tessneer or Paul Halvorson or email

Financial Support:Please send contributions to ARC Retreat Community, 1680 373rd Street, Stanchfield, MN 55080 or online