The North Indiana Conference Center in Marion continues to receive requests from United Methodist members and friends to use the Oakwood Park property in Syracuse, Ind., for a variety of activities. The conference center has received requests to continue Boat-In Worship during the summer, swimming piers for Oakwood property owners, interment of ashes around the chapel, weddings and other special events.

Oakwood Park was a Christian retreat and conference center with hotel and restaurant. It is now closed and for sale. While conference leaders would prefer to continue to allow such use for the benefit of the community and the future of Oakwood, they are unable to do so. With a great deal of sadness, they have reached this conclusion knowing the importance Oakwood Park has been to thousands of people during the facility's long history.

After receiving the property from the Oakwood Foundation in spring 2008, the North Indiana Conference was sued in July 2008 by a former board member and a donor challenging the property transfer and conference ownership of Oakwood Park. Upon the advice of the conference's attorney, the conference cannot permit any use of the property until this ownership issue is resolved.

Clearly, this is an inconvenience to all people in the park and the community. It is our hope that this matter will be resolved and the property will be sold to a resident-owner with the ability to continue such use.

Since receiving the property from the Oakwood Foundation, the North Indiana Conference has continued to secure and maintain the property at great expense to the conference. During the past year, the conference has honored and paid to vendors and banks much of the debt incurred in the operation of the park and its facilities. Even now the conference maintains a small staff to care for and secure the property during this interim time.

Conference leaders hope that a resident-owner will be found to purchase and maintain this beloved facility. Hopefully in the future, Oakwood Park will once again be able to offer its facilities to members and the general public.