In 1893, the Indiana Conference of the Evangelical Association bought forty acres on the west shore of Lake Wawasee for a campground and named it Oakwood Park.
For many years, the grounds provided a vibrant camping ministry for both the Evangelical Association and also the United Brethren of northern Indiana. Remarkably, the program's excellence attracted the attention of the Methodist Episcopals, whose North Conference was looking for a summer experience for its youth. Beginning in 1916, these Methodists were graciously allowed the use of Oakwood Park in which to conduct their own program and this was the forerunner of Epworth Forest.
Later on, Oakwood Park became the site of the uniting session which created the E.U.B. Church in the state. The United Brethren conferences (Saint Joseph, White River, and Indiana) and the Indiana Conference of the Evangelical Association were combined into the new North Indiana Conference of the E.U.B. The new conference used the facility not only for camping programs but as its administrative headquarters.
This arrangement did not last long. Upon the 1968 merger, Oakwood Park passed to the North Indiana Conference of the newly created United Methodist Church.
In 1994, a marvelous gift "for the future" from Howard and Myra Brembeck resulted in construction of a new hotel to replace the earlier one on the campgrounds. However, the "future" of this imposing-looking inn was shorter than the Brembecks must have imagined. After valiant efforts to keep Oakwood Park useful as an Adult Christian Ministry center, the United Methodists reluctantly decided to part with the property. Activities were discontinued in September 2008, and Oakwood has since passed into the hands of owners who operate it as a public resort.
Located two miles south of Syracuse and east of State Road 13, the stately Oakwood Inn may still be visited, but it is no longer in the hands of the United Methodist Church. Phil Lehman provided some of the information for this description.
GPS: 41 24 31.59, -85 44 06.26