By Alden Johanson
Over the years, thousands of families and individuals have driven into Mount Hermon—on their way to a glorious week of Family Camp, to take their children to Redwood Camp or Ponderosa Lodge, or to join their own Guest Groups or Conferences for retreat and respite in the Redwoods. Most can envision passing Safeway and the CVS Pharmacy, turning at the Mount Hermon sign, and taking the grade up and into the beauty along Conference Drive.
Next to the shopping center, and extending to Conference Drive and Zayante Road, is a large, tree-studded, pastoral parcel of undeveloped land. You’ve probably noticed this property and wondered about its future. For many years the Mount Hermon staff have dreamed of owning these 15 pristine acres of mostly flat land— the last such undeveloped parcel in the San Lorenzo Valley. Back in 2006 that dream almost vanished entirely when a local non-profit, South County Housing (SCH), bought the land intending to build 55 affordable housing units there. Mount Hermon could in no way afford their purchase price, but by God’s grace that wasn’t to be the end of the story.
Together, our well-known local environmental concerns and the 2008-2009 housing crisis conspired to unravel their best-laid plans, and SCH advised County officials they would be selling. So about a year ago the County asked Mount Hermon if we’d be interested in purchasing this property from South County Housing. Thus began a lengthy and complex negotiation involving Santa Cruz County officials, with SCH and their lender. All three groups had held a financial stake in the housing project, and political pressures threatened to derail our negotiations.
With diligence we carefully moved ahead, praying for the Lord to lead and honor our efforts, and at every stage God showed up! He even used people He’d “planted” within these organizations to keep our negotiations on track. Then on May 18 all the pieces finally coalesced, and Mount Hermon became the new owner of this beautiful property—at a cost a fraction of the original SCH purchase price!
In miraculous ways God has surely provided this land to us, to serve His Kingdom purposes. We are not surprised, but we ARE amazed! We’re now developing plans for its best use, with several exciting ideas in mind. Our aim is to keep the area scenic and “green,” with minimal structures, to use it primarily for children and recreation.
Our desire is to enhance the experience for our guests while blessing our community at the same time. Please pray for a smooth planning, zoning and permitting process, allowing us, as soon as possible, to put this treasure to use for God’s glory