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Windermere finds new life as ‘Encounter Cove’

New life has been breathed into the iconic Windermere Baptist Conference Center at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The camping and conference facility, popular with Missouri families for decades, had been purchased by Straightway Holdings, Inc. a subsidiary of the Missouri Baptist Foundation in 2019 after Straightway put in the highest bid in a foreclosure sale on the county courthouse steps in December 2019.

Now, both Straightway and MBF have signed a lease-purchase agreement for the 350-acre property with Encounter Ministry based in Lebanon, Mo. It became effective Jan. 1, 2022.

The Windermere name has been dropped in favor of Encounter Cove.

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Encounter Ministry became a significant ministry partner with the camp, helping to operate it and made significant repairs. It also hosted weekend retreats averaging nearly 1000 people at the camp ten months out of each year since September.

“Encounter Ministry has been and continues to be instrumental in helping restore the camp property since a fire destroyed a building and an ice storm caused enough damage to prevent the camp from opening for the summer 2021 season,” said MBF President Neil Franks.

Jeff Brawley founded Encounter Ministry  as a platform to reach and restore men to God. It started with weekend retreats for men and expanded over the years to host women’s retreats, along with an annual marriage retreat in Branson. They have been looking to expand to include youth and children’s summer camps but could not find a suitable facility, until now.

In addition to hosting its own ministry events, they anticipate hosting additional church groups, youth camps, a Christian school along with families and individuals throughout the year. They will be working diligently to restore and prepare the camp for reopening in early summer of 2022.  The camp will be open to hosting former groups as well as new clients.

“We at Encounter Ministry are very excited to be able to continue the dreams and vision of ministry that started Windermere decades ago, a place where so many people have and will continue to encounter Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him,” Brawley said.

Becky Brown, a member of First Baptist Church, Branson, said, “Windermere has held a special place in my heart since the mid 60’s when I worked as a summer staffer in college. Over the years, we’ve continued to participate in various camp activities.”

She says that Windermere played “a life-changing role in the spiritual journey of so many Baptists and beyond.”

Franks says the future now looks bright for the once-troubled property. “We believe the property is in good hands, and God has more in store for this piece of property, even if it will no longer be called Windermere.”  We encourage everyone to consider supporting Encounter Ministry as they continue the legacy Baptist’s began so many years ago.”

–Metro Voice Staff