The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A hidden gem

Nebraska Lutherans use luxury hotel to fund ministries

Camps aren’t just for kids. Lutherans in Nebraska offer a small luxury hotel where adults can enjoy nature too.

The ELCA Nebraska Synod runs the Swanson
The ELCA Nebraska Synod runs the Swanson Retreat Center for church and public events. Synod leaders say that once the center’s debt is paid, the income will help fund youth camps.
photos courtesy of the swanson retreat
The 3-year-old hotel, called the Swanson Retreat Center, is open to the public as a conference center. It’s proving so popular that the hotel hopes to generate income to help pay for children’s camps. The setting is the 317-acre Carol Joy Holling Conference Center and Retreat, located next to a state park between Nebraska’s two population centers of Omaha and Lincoln. Deer and wild turkey roam these rolling hills along the Platte River.

George and Irene Holling gave the land for a Lutheran camp in 1974 after their daughter, Carol Joy, 17, was killed in a car crash on her way to college.

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