history of cedar lake ministries

The History of Cedar Lake Ministries


ca. 1905 to 1914

With all that God has done and is doing here at Cedar Lake Ministries, it is easy to race into the future and forget the past. While CLM embraces and anxiously anticipates all that God has in store for us, we still want to take time to remember where we came from. Here, we reflect on how God has worked every step of the way as well as all the blessings of our rich and vibrant history — and we encourage our visitors to do the same.

ca. 1914 to 1923

By 1912, Monon Railroad was not satisfied with the current management and began looking for new park managers. E.Y. Woolley, Associate Pastor of the Moody Church of Chicago, had the vision of conference grounds and a summer camp for those who attended the Moody Church. Early in 1914, Woolley’s vision was fulfilled when the Monon Railroad gave the Paul Rader church permission to become the new manager of Monon Park. In 1915, Paul Rader became pastor of the church and was very instrumental in the work at Cedar Lake. The church accepted the wooded park as a gift and promised to take good care of the grounds and lakefront. The excursion trains would continue by selling tickets to Christian groups in need of summer outings. The church made many improvements to the park, which resulted in an increase of picnic crowds. By 1919, Monon Park was officially sold to the Moody Church for the total sum of $1. The park was now the Moody Assembly Grounds at Cedar Lake.

Incorporated April 23, 1923

By 1923, Moody Church experienced financial difficulties, which stopped its work at Cedar Lake. Simultaneously, the work was handed over to Mr. Bowles, Mr. Erickson and Mr. Swanson, three elders of the church. On April 23, 1923, the Cedar Lake Conference Association was incorporated. As a means to purchase the grounds from Moody Church, association stocks and summer homes were sold.

ca. 1920 to 1940

The middle and late 1920’s were prosperous at Cedar Lake once the economy picked back up after World War I. When John Duff became the association president in 1927, great things occurred. In this same year, the annual conferences, which began in July and ended Labor Day, had commenced. In 1928, the Fundamental Young People’s Fellowship Conference included Arthur McKee as the speaker. Despite the Great Depression, work continued, but it was impossible to generate any cash surplus. In 1929, the first boy’s camp took place; this was followed in the next year with the first girl’s camp. The association felt that it could not handle the financial responsibility to pay the insurance for the Glendenning Hotel and dropped it in 1935. Around Labor Day of that same year, it burned to the ground and the damage was estimated at $25,000. Despite this, Hotel Rest-A-While was completed in July of the following year.

ca. 1940 to 1960

During the 1940’s conferences, concerts and camps continued. By 1948, the Monon Railroad moved the section of the tracks that skirted the western shore of Cedar Lake about a quarter of a mile west, which left about a half of a mile of lakefront open to purchase by the Cedar Lake Conference Association. Soon enough, this land was purchased from the railroad for $15,000 with the help of a short-term loan from the First National Bank of Crown Point. Several loads of dirt were brought in and the lakefront was re-landscaped. By about 1950, South Gate Chapel was built and construction of the west wing of Hotel Rest-A-While began. In 1958, Richard Boldt became the new manager.

ca. 1960 to 1990

In the 1960s, the Conference Association realized that guests were wanting more modern conveniences. Construction of Cedars #1-6 was underway by 1964. During the mid-1980’s, rooms in Hotel Rest-A-While were being remodeled, and by the early 1990’s, Cedars #7-12 were constructed. Along with these updates for modern facilities, the Cedar Lake Bible Conference Grounds was renamed the Cedar Lake Bible Conference Center by about 1980. At this time Al Lackey became Executive Director. One of the largest struggles for Mr. Lackey and the conference association during the 1980’s was the efforts to get the grounds septic system hooked up to the town’s sewer system.

1990 to Present

An even greater effort ensued to provide modern facilities to the groups coming to Cedar Lake. As a result, several key improvements were made and essential buildings constructed on the grounds. In 1995, a 30-site RV Park and Bathhouse was completed and opened for the season. A new 350-seat Dining Hall & Conference Center was also completed in 1996. The fall of 2000 and winter of 2001 saw Hickory Lodge (built in 1924) renovated and air-conditioning added. Eight rooms in Rest-A-While Hotel were gutted and renovated, and two handicap accessible rooms were added. The fall of 2001 through the spring of 2002, Torrey Auditorium, built in 1897, was completely renovated with a new foundation, windows, carpet, drywall, lighting, sound system, siding, seating, heating and air-conditioning. Rest-A-While Hotel, built in 1936, also was improved. The west wing had not been updated since its original construction in the early 1950’s. It now contains 18 brand new rooms with a new conference room on the lower level. In 2009, Rest-A-While underwent a renovation and redecorating project which improved rooms and updated the lobby and fireplace into not only a beautiful but comfortable lounge area, perfect for reflection and refreshing.