A Q&A with Laity Lodge about where the Lodge has been, where it’s headed, and how it remains anchored in mission.
Laity Lodge is a place lots of people want to visit—but it can be pretty tricky to find an opening. And of course, the pandemic changed everything for a while. How are you hosting people these days?
Everyone can get a good idea of what we are up to, and even what we value, by looking at the upcoming retreats listed on our website. COVID made that calendar pretty bare for two years now. We’ve tried to maintain one public, open retreat every month—though those retreats have been smaller than usual, so you are right to say it’s been tricky to visit.
But this is changing! This summer should mark the re-establishment of a steady stream of the classic Laity Lodge retreats that anyone can readily sign up for and attend. That’s our baseline, and it’s vital to everything else that might happen out here.
What else happens at the Lodge?
Quite a lot, actually. Behind that public retreat listing is another calendar that accounts for the full sweep of Lodge events, including partnerships, micro-retreats, and an increasing number H. E. Butt Foundation initiatives. All of these involve us working with other institutions and individuals to craft retreats that promote our shared strategic ends.
So you’re building more retreats in partnership with others. What are those like?
A good example of a partnership retreat is one we just hosted with Baylor University’s Soundings Project. This group of thirteen Texas congregations are engaged in a multi-year project designed to help both the university and the churches discern purpose and vocation.
Then, just a few weeks later, we hosted a group of scholars brought together by Duke Divinity School’s Initiative in Theology and the Arts. These scholars are the next generation of academic leaders, and they are being brought together now in order to cultivate a sense of camaraderie and friendship that will color their work and have a ripple effect outside the academy in the years to come.
Both of these groups are centered around some of our longstanding concerns: vocation, Texas churches, theology, the arts, friendship. And they value the opportunity to be here—they recognize that gathering at the Lodge has a shaping impact on their work together.
How is the Lodge serving newer H. E. Butt Foundation initiatives?
The Foundation has built a legacy of operating Canyon-based programs like Laity Lodge. Much of the new work happens under the umbrella of a program called Community Engagement—work that is anchored to places like San Antonio and Real County where we are supporting families and children in various ways.