Luther Park is growing.

Plans are in the works to add a $2.2 million Ministry Center for retreats and conferences to the 100-acre site that is covered with towering pines and surrounded by beautiful views of Prairie Lake.

Luther Park offers programs for children and youth as well as family programs. It leads approximately 25 Vacation Bible School Day Camp programs for congregations around Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The expansion project began in fall 2019, and The Building and Rejoicing Campaign is gathering steam to break ground on the new Ministry Center.  

The center will host more than 280 individuals on the main level, have large and small meeting rooms, additional rest rooms, a larger storm shelter and future housing/retreat space.

Luther Park has been blessed by generous donors who are matching funds raised by Luther Park churches.

“We are 53% of the way to our fundraising goal of $2.2 million,” said Kellee Petik, development director. “Our $500,000 church matching funds challenge has raised 6% of the goal and our $100,000 Menomonie area challenge has raised 19% of the goal.”   

For any funds donated to the Building & Rejoicing Campaign from Menomonie-area churches in 2019–2021, anonymous donors will match up to $100,000, dollar for dollar.

For any funds donated to any supporting churches of Luther Park from 2019 to 2021, Dave and Carolyn Cleveland will match funds up to $500,000.

Luther Park invites everyone to join in their fundraising efforts so that they may continue to reach more people as partners in faith.

Pastor Josh Toufar, who was raised at Luther Park as the son of former directors  Sherm and Mary Toufar, said, “It’s exciting, knowing the history of a place like Luther Park, to see steps being taken to ensure an even brighter future that will open Luther Park to even more year-round opportunities, all while preserving some of that rich history that Luther Park Bible Camp is known for. This is an exciting period in the history of this place.”  

Keith Newman, current executive director,  remarked, “It’s really about the ministry, our partnership with churches in support of growing faith lives by getting kids to camp, as well as adults, to help support and nurture their faith.”

Pastor Chris Sesvold, who has the Partners in Faith parishes of Trinity Lutheran of Rice Lake, Our Savior’s Lutheran of Campia and Grace Lutheran of Brill; and his wife Luci, an associate pastor at Bethany Lutheran of Rice Lake; are both involved in the camp and enthused about the building project.

“I’m really excited to see the opportunities increase for year-round use of the camp,” Pastor Chris said. “The retreats, events, forums and other gathering possibilities have the potential to create a huge draw from our region, as well as farther away.  

“I am excited to see what new, fun things are available for me and my congregations to attend because of the usability of the space. The ability for larger and more diverse groups to gather will help generate relationship between this amazing camp and the people in our community.”


Luther Park has prepared answers to Frequently Asked Questions, which include the following:

Q) What is the focus of the campaign? A) To build an energy efficient Ministry Center, which will provide adequate storm shelter space, an updated Chapel that seats 288 people, additional rest room facilities, housing, as well as provide much needed indoor space for inclement weather. The Dining Hall renovation will add rest rooms, storage, a meeting room, and update the kitchen.

Q) Why start with these projects over others? A) There is a tremendous need for a larger, energy efficient building that is usable year-round and has an adequate storm shelter, rest rooms and summer  housing. Our camper numbers have grown more than 60% since 2012, and there are increased demands by non-summer events and guests. These projects allow the camp to meet both the immediate needs of summer and year-round growth. We look for success with this campaign and look ahead to future projects to enhance Luther Park for years to come.

Q) What will happen to the existing Chapel? A) The intention is to keep a portion of the existing chapel building, including the  replace and some of the old beautiful trusses to create an open-air pavilion with the original iconic curved roof line.

Q) What is the expense of maintaining a new Ministry Center once it is built? A) Because of the energy efficiency of the building and the capacity for year-round use and other functions, it’s estimated that the Ministry Center will add income annually after expenses. Additional expenses for the building should be less than 25% of the revenue generated by the building.

Q) Does donating to the campaign cover the camp’s annual ministry costs? A) It’s important to note that any donations to the capital campaign should be over and above normal giving to the camp ministry. There is so much involved to keeping LPBC healthy and functional for year-round ministry that annual donations are still a priority and much needed.

Q) Why did it take so long to kick off the campaign? A) The Luther Park Board approved proceeding with the capital campaign in January 2018 after a necessary study period. Much of the early work of a campaign is done quietly and behind the scenes for optimum results. The work of planning, preparing campaign materials and receiving a few early lead gifts has been under way since the Board’s approval in January 2018. Running a successful campaign requires careful planning and implementation before the campaign is publicly rolled out.

Q) How long will this process take? A) Gifts can be made as a one-time donation at any time. Pledges for gifts can occur over the course of 3 years. Depending on the timing of the receipt of pledges and gifts, the campaign could potentially span 4-5 years. With a commitment to  financial prudence, it is hoped to break ground for this project in 2 years, more or less. This decision will be based on the amount of pledges and gifts in hand at the time to warrant commencement of construction.

Q) What are ways to give in addition to writing a check? A) Gifts can come in many forms: CD’s and other investments, gifts of stock, roll-overs from your IRA, land sales, gifts-in-kind and volunteer labor.

How to help

Those interested in making this dream a reality are encouraged to reach out to their local ELCA churches to double their donation dollars or contact the camp for how to stretch their donations.

Donations can be given online, by mailing a check, through an ELCA church, or by direct transfer from a retirement account. (please note campaign donation)

Information can be obtained through the website or by contacting Executive Director Keith Newman or Development Director Kellee Petik at 715-859-2215 or online at

LPBC is a 501c3 non-profit organization.

Luther Park is located at  24 1/4 St. / Luther Park Road, Chetek.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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