Mountain Matters 2016 
Holiday Edition
Greetings From Linda Sterner, Board Chair, and Ted Wisnieski,
Executive Director
We invite you to watch this video greeting from Linda Sterner and Ted Wisniewski by clicking the link below:

Mountain supporters like you help make everything we do possible each year. You are our inspiration for our vision to be....

An exemplary retreat, camp & learning center that celebrates Unitarian Universalist principles,
inspires people of all ages,
transforms lives,
and builds a more compassionate world.

We are grateful for the generosity of donors who funded our November matching challenge of $19,000--which helped to successfully raise over $30,000 during the month leading up to Giving Tuesday.

So much has been accomplished in 2016 thanks to our Mountain supporters and our dedicated volunteers. AND, there are so many exciting projects that will be finished in time for our spring and summer guests.

Y ou can learn more about the special projects we have funded in 2015-2016 and those identified for funding in 2017 by visiting the
Giving section of The Mountain website.

If you have a project you would like to fund, please contact me or Ted to discuss.

May your holidays and the new year bring you much love and many blessings!

With gratitude,

Laurel Amabile , Development Director
828.526.5838 ext. 254    

Here are some ways you can make a  year-end gift today.
  • Send a check: PO 1299 Highlands, NC 28741
  • To make a gift of stocks or securities, contact our Development Office.
  • Or simply hit the Donat
    button below and make a gift online!
Mountain Programs
April 16 - 21, 2017
A new event will "spring up" on Easter Sunday at The Mountain: A much-requested week-long focus-Music Week at The Mountain!

Key Presenters are:

Aidan Quinn & Christine Stay

Workshops & Programs include:
  • Music's Evolution over 100,000 Year
  • Ageless Archetypes in Music
  • Making an Instrument & Thence Music
  • Daily Choral Instruction
  • One-on-One Lessons for Voice & Instrument
  • Songwriting Enhanced
  • Playing Parts Together
  • Setting Family Stories to Song
  • Talent Night
  • Daily Worship Musically
  • Three evening Concerts
We are open to more ideas and workshops! Two visual artists got excited upon hearing of this event because music often inspires their best creativity. Other creative souls come to paint, sketch, write, learn, dance, etc. Send ideas to Phil Sterner, Coordinator .

Bring your musical instruments, voice, playfulness, canvas & brushes, paint, easels, music stands, toes for tapping, hands for clapping, zest for the new, good heart, curiosity and positive spirit. 

Expect good spirits, magic, and a sense of community. Learn from well-trained musicians with proven teaching skills and the knack for enhancing the best in us.

Click here today to get a $25 discount for early registration!

Packages start at $375 for 4-days/3-nights. Entire 6-days/5 nights event is just $560, and includes room, board and all program costs. 

Just prior to MUSIC WEEK is Easter Volunteer Weekend--a bargain at $70 for the 3-days/2-nights if you do 8 hours of volunteer service--a $190 value! 

Back-to-back programming lets you "give and get more" at The Mountain. Register now and reserve your space!
'That Which Holds All'
Meditation by Nancy Shaffer
Instuctions in Joy 2002

Because she wanted everyone to feel included
  in her prayer,
she said right at the beginning
several names for the Holy:
Spirit, she said,
Holy One, Mystery, God
but then thinking these weren't enough ways of addressing  that which cannot fully be addressed, she added  particularities, saying,
Spirit of Life, Spirit of Love,
Ancient Holy One, Mystery We Will Not Ever Fully Know,
Gracious God, and also
Spirit of this Earth,
God of Sarah, Gaia, Thou
and then, tongue loosened, she fell to naming
superlatives as well:
Most Creative One,
Greatest Source, Closest Hope
even though superlatives for the Sacred seemed to her
probably redundant, but then she couldn't stop:
One who Made the Stars
, she said, although she knew
technically a number of those present didn't believe
the stars had been made by anyone or thing
but just luckily happened.
One Who Is an Entire Ocean of Compassion
she said, and no one laughed.
That Which Has Been Present Since Before the Beginning
she said, and the room was silent.
Then, although she hadn't imagined it this way,
others began to offer names.
said one.
One My Mother Knew,
said another.
said a third.
said one near the back.
That Which Holds All.
A child said,
Someone said,
Kuan Yin.
Great Kindness.
Great Eagle.
Eternal Stillness.
And then, there wasn't any need to say the things
she'd thought would be important to say,
and everyone sat hushed, until someone said
Reflections on 
'That Which Holds All'
by Rachel Kinback
Guest Services Manager 

I was immediately moved when I read this meditation 'That Which Holds All' by Nancy Shaffer,( seen above) and found myself returning to it again and again. Lately, I have been reflecting on the idea of the elements as a representation of God, The Almighty, The All-Knowing, Spirit of Life...
How powerful water and air and fire and earth are; how they have and will continue to shape the landscape, how we as humans harness their power, enjoy their comforts, rely upon them, and how quickly they can become destructive forces. My reflections have much to do with my proximity to the North Georgia and Western North Carolina wildfires and my concerns for the protestors at Standing Rock in North Dakota. With land and resources under threat I acknowledge and honor the way people band together in these situations. It pleases me that so many people recognize how sacred our land and resources truly
are, and are willing to step in and provide aid. Though most of the wildfires in my region did not affect any structures or homes, the loss of so much wilderness weighs heavily for many; but overall we must consider ourselves very lucky.  For the people of Sevier County, Tennessee, our hearts go out to you. The scale of the damage caused by the Chimney Tops and Cobbly Nob fires is both terrifying and humbling. Your loss is felt across the country, and we hope that together Gatlinburg and Sevier County can rise from this tragedy. 
Over the past month or more I have seen an outpouring of community support for the fire fighters, emergency services, forest and park service reps, volunteer corps members and all others helping to battle the blazes. This week I have witnessed the wave of relief and elation that came over all of us as over four inches of rain fell in Highlands and the rest of the region. My elation was doubled when I heard news that The Army Corp of Engineers recognized the threat that the Dakota Access Pipeline would present to drinking water and denied an easement to allow the pipeline to run underneath the Missouri River.  In addition, another local victory - both The Highlands and Cashiers Area Chambers of Commerce have chosen to take an active stance on supporting our local wilderness. Last week both business organizations submitted letters to representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, encouraging them to support a wilderness designation for two different areas near the plateau - Terrapin Mountain and Overflow Creek Wilderness Study Area (the Overflow Creek area is located in the Blue Valley and can be seen from overlooks at The Mountain).
As with most things in life, if we do not attend to and take care of them, they will get away from us, unravel, fall apart and cause problems. It is up to us to prevent through preservation and to resolve together when problems do arise. I find that my reflections are filled with hope for the future. I try my best to recognize the divine in all the world around me; in the good and the bad, the high points and the low points. The Interdependent Web has many key players-  including  Fire, Water,  Air, Earth and of course Us. Let us have the wisdom to recognize this web, cultivate and preserve it.  Aho! (Cherokee, it is used at the end of a prayer similar to the use of "amen")
2016 Annual Funding Campaign Update

Thanks to you...
we have almost reached our Annual Funding Goal!

If we s t r e t c h, we can make it by December 31st. There is still time for you to send your love and financial gifts, to help us raise the $239,000 we need to fully fund our dreams and projects for the year. 

Please make a gift today:

Message from Board Chair
Linda Sterner
Giving Thanks
As we enter the traditional "Season of Giving", I find myself in a "Giving Thanks" state of mind.  That could be because we just returned home after a wonderful weekend at The Mountain with most of my immediate family and nearly 100 more Mountain family members.  Thank you, Megan, for organizing the event.  Thanks to Matt and his kitchen team for all the  great food including the Eggs Benedict at Thanksgiving brunch.   Thank you to Bill and the farm interns for the fresh food and flowers.  Thank you, Kerry, for carving the Turkey and making sure we all had hot water in our cabins.

 Speaking of cabins, thank you, Mary Beth and Wendy, for cleaning them and making our beds.  Thank you, Russell, for replacing the decks and windows of The Lodge.  Thank you, Laurel, for securing the funds we needed to buy mattresses and thank you, Harriet, for finding us a great deal on Cyber Monday. 

Thank you to all our committed Trustees who have volunteered countless hours this year to ensure The Mountain is well managed and sustainable.Thank you, Marty, for stepping up to lead the Strategic Planning process.  Thank you, Beverly, and our Endowment Board for rebuilding our fund. 

A huge thank you to Ted, our Executive Director, who has done so much to improve the customer experience for all our guests all year while keeping our expenses within budget for the 3rd year in a row. 

Thank you, Miriam and Rob, for your help creating and monitoring the budget.  And thank you, Alex and Jay, for keeping our website and social media fresh and attractive.  Thank you, Julia and Rachel, for taking good care of all our program leaders and participants.   Thank you, Mark, for improving our guests' internet experience and your excellent technical support.

I also want to thank all our volunteers who have donated more than 3000 hours onsite doing everything from kitchen work to painting to leading workshops.  And last but certainly not least, thank you to all our members and financial supporters who have made all of the above possible.
Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season and looking forward to another great year in 2017. 
The Heart of Giving
Donor Appreciation
This message is from Gerald Robison, a long-time supporter of The Mountain....

"My wife, Emilu Bailes, and I love to visit The Mountain, experience the natural setting, the fellowship connectivity, and the spirit enhancing atmosphere and activities while there. It makes us feel good to see our names on the Life and Patron Member listings in the dining hall.

However, Emilu and I know that past generosity is to not enough. The life our physical body is made possible by the m illions upon millions of heart beatings of the past. That got us where we are, but our body will quickly die without the blood flow from heartbeats now, today, the present.
In addition to our visits to The Mountain and our past special contributions, we send a donation each month. We understand  The Mountain must have about one-quarter of its revenues from donations.
A steady flow of such gifts will help keep our beloved place alive and well. If you are not doing so, we urge you to provide that steady, dependable stream of financial gifts to The Mountain. What you may have done in the past will not be in vain if you continue your generosity in the here and now."

You may set up a monthly credit card gift online at The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center's  Giving page.

Another option is to schedule monthly gifts through your bank bill pay system or contact our Development Office to set up automatic bank drafts.

Legacy Giving & The Mountain Endowment Fund
        The Mountain Endowment Fund is growing!
Wi th bequests and gifts to our Mountain Endowment Fund,and careful management by the Mountain Endowment Board and the Unitarian Universalist Association's Common Endowment Fund our fund has grown to nearly $100,000. As a result the annual distributions that are made to The Mountain are also growing.
Endowment Fund Supports Mountain Projects 
In fulfilling the Endowment Fund purpose of supporting Mountain projects, in 2015 we contributed to the purchase of chairs for the Tree House and Commons. In 2016, after reviewing projects identified by Mountain staff, the Endowment Board is pleased to make a donation of $1,560 to The Mountain.  This will help with new dinnerware for the dining hall, as well as begin purchasing new mattresses for the lodge.

We are honored to be part of assuring the thriving of The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center for many years to come.  Please consider making a special donation or including the Endowment Fund in your estate plans.  Together we are building for the future of The Mountain.                Beverly Cree

For more information about The Mountain Endowment Fund and the June Cravens Sholin Legacy Society, contact Beverly Cree , President, The Mountain Endowment Fund. Gifts may be mailed to The Mountain, Attn: Endowment Fund.

Watch this slide show of what our Thanksgiving guest love about The Mountain!

Here are some of the images of Thanksgiving weekend...

Much appreciation goes to Larry Wheeler & Nancy Heath, who were our volunteer hosts for Thanksgiving Weekend, Donn & Sandi Erikson, our Social Time volunteers, and Marty Beech, who baked all the Gingerbread for the Gingerbread house-making!
Message  From
Executive Director
Ted Wisniewski

I hope you are having a grand and wonderful  holiday season. Sometime between the end of the long summer drought and the middle of the month long forest fire tragedy, I began to study and marvel at our own beautiful and ancient forest surrounding our mountaintop. At no time of the year is it more evident that our several hundred year white oaks are perfect representations of who we are as a Mountain Community.

The ancient oaks are strong, forgiving and flexible. The strong high winds during the Mountain's winter often reach speeds of 50 mph. Our oaks bend and dance in the wind; they embrace the challenge and seem grateful.   Our community is also strong, forgiving and flexible. We bring music; stories and laughter to each other as we make new friends and keep the old. Our community faces the realities of survival in a society, embracing  challenge, and endurance.  
The roots of our oaks have adapted to the shallow soil, they spread out wide and at times go deep, cracking into the rock that once seemed impenetrable. The roots give each tree the strength to be firmly planted and handle all conditions that mountain life offers. Our community has adapted to the changes at The Mountain, in leadership and  finances. Like our oaks we have crossed barriers that were once thought impenetrable. We have blazed new trails and discovered the amazing possibilities our future holds.

Time does affect our beloved trees, every year the leaves turn bright and fall, branches break in the wind, ice and snow, but  those gifts are not wasted. Our oaks graciously  keep giving themselves to the Mountain. They nurture the soil giving the rest of the trees valuable resources to carry on.   

Time also affects our community every year we lose Charter, Patron and Life Members, the people whose passion and vision made this sacred space possible. Their influence and gifts continue to shape and nurture The Mountain after they are gone.

As you look out at sunrise or sunset and see the silhouettes of our oaks, you will see parallels to our own lives.. The beauty is clear and, like us, they have bents, knots, curves, moss, and old leaves hanging on.  They like us are all different and unique, and have an important place in our Mountain Community.

 I wish you a wonderful and festive holiday season filled with blessings of Peace and Love.  From my family to yours~
Happy Holidays,


Appreciation for Those Serving The Mountain's Board of Trustees 

Linda Sterner
Jim Becker*
Chris Breivogel
Recording Secretary
Lem Arnold
Corporate Secretary
Rob Marcy
Financial Advisor

Kathleen Anderson
Eunice Benton*
Nathalie Bigord
Rev. Chris Buice*
Kit Hamblen
David Hudson
Rev. Julie Kain
Peter Kandis
Jay Kiskel
Rev. Sherman Logan Jr.
Gail Sphar
Mani Subramanian*
Erin Thompson
Cathlean Utzig

*Terms of service ended in May 2016.

MountainCamps & YouthCONs
MountainCamp 2017 Registration is now OPEN!

We are now recruiting y outh and young adults t o serve as Peer Advocate Leaders and Mentors, and to lead workshops, focus groups and fun activities at our Youth CONs. If you are between the age of 16 and 24, visit our website for more information on how to apply.

MountainCamp  has a direct and lasting effect on  a young person's life, providing the opportunity to become a part of our inclusive MountainCamp community.
A Tribute to our 
2016 Mountain Volunteers

Each year, The Mountain benefits greatly from the time, energy, and skills shared by our dedicated volunteers. Our wonderful 2016 volunteers performed a variety of tasks, including office work, housekeeping, kitchen help, CON chaperons, trail maintenance, facility maintenance, website development, program design, and much more. 

Much appreciation goes to:

Americorps, Fred Amabile, Alex Arnold, Neal Andreae, Paige Baty, John Meech, Marty Beech, Patricia Beech, Sharon Beecher, Susie Benner, Eddas Bennett, Taryn Bledsoe, Bob Weber, Jack Bornemann, Chistina & Mia Branum-Martin, Brennan Cain Nucchio, Chris Carlsten, Jon Carlsten, Alice & Lee Carnes, Steve Carter, Jessica Coats, Maire Caitlin Cogdell, Beverly Cree, Dan & Susan Damerville, Nancy Delux, Michael Denby, Lisa Dickinson, Megan Eckert, Susan Ellerman, Meg Engler, Brennan Engler, Feonia  Engler, Sandi & Donn Erikson, Bill Field, Brian Foster, Leslie Freymann, Howard  & Q uinn  Gerbeaux, Steven  Gordon, Rebecca  Will Gordon, Mark Gramlich, Holly Grimes, Brynan Hadaway, John  & Nancy Hagler, Micha Hall, Eileen Harvey, Bob Hargrove, Mark Haun, Nancy Heath, Karl & Merna Hesse, Jack Johnson, Judith  Kaufman, Lynn  Klarman, Larry Kloet, Dawn  Kotin, Joe  Lama, Winston  Lancaster, 
Harriet Lawrence, 
Charles & Lois Lee, Patrick Levin, Sven Lovegren, Frank Mabry, Kristin MacAulay, Matt McClain, Rita McMaken, Elizabeth Marsala, Mary Martin, Paula Massey, 
Min Ye, Steve &  Evi  Mobbs, Arthur  Murphy, Lucy Neel, Merideth Norman, Judy Padgett, Noah Palmer, Edward Prestermon, Patricia Prestermon, Judy Porter, Bill Porter, Loren Teachey, Ruthie  Slan, Phil  Smith, Robert E & Susan Smith, Devan  Spear, Linda  & Phil  Sterner, Susan Ullman, Shannon Unger, Rose Vanderburg,
June Wallace, Bob Weber, Minnie Webster, Beth Weeger, Larry Wheeler, Barry White, Jess Williams, Becca & Rin Willocks, Joe Will, Ginger Wyatt, and Nancy Wylie.

Thank You, Friends, for making    it all happen!

If you are interested in serving as a Mountain volunteer,  contact us for more information.

Thank You!

Megan Quattlebaum
  Program Director
Before our big meal at Thanksgiving, Ted invited people to stand and give a reason why they are thankful this season. Leslie Freymann stood and stated, "I am thankful for Megan, who gave my daughter a wonderful MountainCamp and Youth CON experience, and gives us wonderful programs like this Thanksgiving program." 

A lot of people cheered, I blushed and daydreamed myself into the Oscar Awards. "They like me... they really like me!" It was a great boost to my confidence. After that, I kept thinking of all the reasons why I am thankful. The list got so long in my head, I knew I needed to save it for another time and eat my turkey. So here it is, better late than never!  I am grateful for...

MountainCamp Staff- I am thankful for your leadership; for how well you care for our campers and how much you make me laugh because mainly I remember being your age too. Don't worry, life gets funnier but not always easier.

Youth CON PALs and Mentors- I am thankful for your enthusiasm, your planning skills and that I don't have to prompt you to sing to PALs who are late for breakfast- because next time 'we won't wait!'

Volunteers- I am thankful for your effort, your continued support and your dedication to this beloved place. We couldn't survive without you.
To program presenters- I am thankful for your ideas, passion and skills for sharing. You make our programs worth being at.

The Board- I am thankful for your kindness, your guidance and your trust. I used to think Boards were scary but you've changed my mind.

Mountain Staff- I am thankful to this family we have built, for each of you who listen to the good and bad and the love we all share.

Mountain visitors, campers & participants-I am thankful for you because you are why we do what we do.

Ted- I am thankful that you care so much about the success of the Mountain and the success of your staff. This place wouldn't be the same without you.

I do have a lot more to be grateful for but it is lunch time and again my list grows longer and I get hungrier. Happy Holidays from Megan.

Megan Quattlebaum 
Program Director  

The Mountain Retreat & Learning Center 
3872 Dillard Road P.O. Box 1299
Highlands, NC 28741