In the early 1970s, developers of this property planned a “second home community" on 2,800 acres of land, and began designing it. A clubhouse, known in the community as Cragwood Lodge, was started, but not finished. The lodge consisted of 8,000 square feet on the upper level and 11,000 square feet on the lower level. The vision of the developers was to arrange home sites around the lodge, but foreclosure took place in 1974.
Brunkow Hardwood Corporation purchased the property in the late 1980s. In 1992 Brunkow sold the unfinished lodge and model home along with 80 acres to Youth With A Mission to be used as a retreat and training center. In the summer of 1996, Youth With A Mission made a decision to consolidate their training centers and move all their training to the main campus in Hawaii leading to the sale of this property.
In September 1996, a foundation from Minneapolis contacted Camp Forest Springs concerning the property. If Forest Springs was interested, the foundation would purchase the property and transfer it to them. At the September 1996 board meeting, the Forest Springs’ Board of Directors voted to research the feasibility of accepting the property.
On November 9, 1996, Forest Springs’ Board of Directors voted to accept the property as a gift from the foundation.
As work began on the property, the driveway right-of-way was cleared. The remodeling of the lodge required that all of the walls had to be reinsulated. Much of the wiring was replaced. Several walls needed to be moved and plumbing was modified to meet the requirements of the new kitchen design.
In 1999, a site was cleared and work was completed on the 40’ x 60’ maintenance building which included a heated floor, three overhead doors, and an office.
During the years of 2002 to 2006, a new entryway with an indoor wheelchair ramp and heated floor was added to the front of the lodge. A new rooftop heating/air conditioning unit was installed. Many of the static windows were replaced with casement windows to provide air movement. All interior and exterior doors were replaced. New flooring was installed, and heating/air conditioning ducts were added to all rooms. A recreation field also was cleared and planted with grass.
In September 2006, Oak Forest Center officially opened for daytime use. In order to provide overnight lodging for retreats, an adjoining hotel building was begun in the fall of 2007. Eight of the sixteen rooms were completed in August of 2009. In September 2010, another eight guestrooms were opened as well as the lower level Great Room, game room, and adjoining breakout rooms. Since then, the snack shop, lower level bathrooms, exercise room, and hotel meeting room have also been completed.
In 2017 we completed construction of the volunteer/quiet retreat suite and in 2020 the auditorium which is now called Cedar Hall. The work has been mainly done by Oak Forest and Forest Springs staff and many volunteers. To date, Oak Forest Retreat & Conference Center has been able to maintain a debt-free position.
The mission of Oak Forest is to draw adults into a deeper, more personal relationship with Jesus Christ, based on the absolute truth of God’s Word and by providing an excellent retreat center in a peaceful environment.
We believe in the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments as verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, and that they are of supreme and final authority in faith and conduct (Mark 12:26, 36; 13:11; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; Acts 1:16; 17:2–3; 18:28; 26:22–23; 28:23; Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 2:13; 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21).
We believe that man was created in the image of God; that man sinned, and thereby incurred, not only physical death, but also spiritual death, which is separation from God; that, as a result of this sin first committed by Adam, all human beings are born with a sinful nature, and are accountable as sinners in thought, word, and deed (Rom. 3:23, 6:23).
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice; and that all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood (John 1:29; Rom. 3:25–26; 2 Cor. 5:14; Heb. 10:5–14; 1 Pet. 3:18).
We believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit, and only thereby become children of God (John 1:12). We further believe that the Christian life is exemplary of the teachings found in the New Testament as the Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus Christ in and through each obedient believer (John 14:16–17; 16:7–15).
We believe that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking His mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Acts 3:19-21; Rom. 10:9-10; I Cor. 6:9-11).
We believe that every person must be afforded compassion, love, kindness, respect, and dignity (Mark 12:28-31; Luke 6:31). Hateful and harassing behavior or attitudes directed toward any individual are to be repudiated and are not in accord with Scripture nor the doctrines of Oak Forest.
We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of God’s choice of gender for that person.
We believe that the term “marriage” has only one meaning: the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated by Scripture (Gen. 2:18-25). We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other (I Cor. 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb. 13:4). We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.
We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, pedophilia, bestiality, incest, cohabitation, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God (Matt. 15:18-20; I Cor. 6:9-10).
We believe that all human life is sacred and created by God in His image. Human life is of inestimable worth in all its dimensions, including pre-born babies, the aged, the physically or mentally challenged, and every other stage or condition from conception through natural death. We are therefore called to defend, protect, and value all human life (Psalm 139).
We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost (Luke 16:19–26; 23:42; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 2 Thess. 1:7–9; Jude 6–7; Rev. 20:11–15).
The statement of faith does not exhaust the extent of our beliefs. The Bible itself, as the inspired and infallible Word of God that speaks with final authority concerning truth, morality, and the proper conduct of mankind, is the sole and final source of all that we believe. For purposes of the Oak Forest Retreat and Conference Center’s faith, doctrine, practice, policy, and discipline, our Board of Directors is Oak Forest’s final interpretive authority on the Bible’s meaning and application.
We believe that in order to preserve the function and integrity of Oak Forest Retreat and Conference Center as the local Body of Christ, and to provide a biblical model to the Oak Forest staff and community, it is imperative that all persons employed by Oak Forest agree to and abide by this Statement of Faith.
('76, revised '89, ’12, ’16 and ‘21)
Oak Forest Retreat & Conference Center in western Wisconsin is under the direction of the Forest Springs Ministries Board of Directors.
Forest Springs Ministries is a family of Christian camping and retreat facilities in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You can learn more about the individual facilities as well as the overall mission of Forest Springs here.