“We at Antioch Ranch exist to provide an atmosphere that allows people to find refreshment with God, Family, Friends and Nature.”
ANTIOCH RANCH HISTORY
In the early 1960’s a seed was planted in our hearts through a Christian retreat ministry in Southern California. This was a small country ministry that had found the value of hosting folks away from the business of their usual routine. God worked significantly in such a setting. Both of us were impacted by this fresh retreat approach to ministry. Together we realized that we were somehow destined to do something similar. As “God’s will grows on you,” so it did on us.
In 1964, after Pat graduated from nursing school, and Jerry graduated from seminary, with 2-week-old Jane, we moved to Mendocino where a high school job was open. (That’s a story in itself.) Immediately we began looking for our “place in the country.” Certainly there could be no place more beautiful than the Mendocino’s rugged coast and the majestic Redwoods of Northern California.
In the fall of 1965, after a year of searching for just the right place, God unquestionably led us to these 20 acres that we now call Antioch Ranch. The details of our “finding” this place were amazingly complex, and definitely not easy on us, but we at times make things harder on ourselves than we need to. Maybe harder on God than we need … Anyway, we paid $22,500 for these 20 acres with one fixer-upper 2 bedroom, one bathroom house. The living room was once the garage for the homestead that we learned had burned down in the 40’s.
The Ranch had history, and a lush, overgrown orchard. It had some pasture land, hundreds of Redwoods, and was a nice distance from the fog belt. Jerry’s folks helped with a modest down payment, and we “city-kids” did our best to bring some fresh order to this run down old place.
In 1967 Lori was born in a local hospital that is now a bed-n-breakfast. From 1967 to 1969 we chafed over “nothing happening.” Jerry continued teaching at Mendocino and we had become members of the local Presbyterian church, kind of a stretch for a couple of charismatic Baptists. Not exactly a match, but a lot of good came out of it that showed up later.
The year 1969 was a pivotal year for our family. Kathy was born (in the now B & B!), Jerry’s 11 year-old son came to live with us, and the Presbyterian pastor suggested we open our 20 acre “home” to the countless searching Hippies flowing into Mendocino. The idea nauseated us!! But over the weeks that followed we couldn’t shake the crazy ideas. We somehow identified with Moses at the burning bush. Yes, it was the Lord, so we jumped into what was later called the “Jesus Movement.” For 11 years thousands of wonderful and often weird young people journeyed through what we came to name Antioch Ranch. We used the name Antioch after the city in Syria where many of the early Christians found safety and spiritual nourishment. Was this God’s “retreat joke?”
In a sense we encouraged/taught many of those folks until 1980, when God took us down another turn in the road. We were asked to start a Christian school for a growing number of Jesus Movement churches in the Bay Area. Our work here at the Ranch had slowed down, another story. Our girls were growing up very, very fast and appeared to need a change. We sensed it was God’s leading, and we, too, were ready for a fresh challenge. So we packed up our stuff and headed for the big city where we “birthed” and “parented” a Christian school for 7 years. That’s another whole story, but a very rich time in our lives.
In 1988 our part in the life of the school was finished, and we were brought to a huge decision place. Our son was married, Jane was about to be married, and Lori and Kathy were in a Christian college in Southern California. Really, yes really, our only option was to come “home” to the Ranch. It looked like it was time to get back to our original “retreat vision.”
During the “Hippie” ministry years we had somehow (another story) built 5 additional homes on the land, and turned our house into a 4 bedroom and 2 bathroom home. Looking back we can see how truly miraculous that was. The property is zoned “agricultural,” one house only per 20 acres. We had 6! We had had no real money, super limited building skills, and questionable labor attitudes. Somehow, someway the houses had gotten built. These 6 houses stayed rented by various Christian families (another story) for the 8 years we were off doing the school. Now these homes are the vacation rentals that form the basis of our retreat complex.
Since 1988 we have worked very hard refurbishing these homes for families, church groups, honeymooners, and various other folks. We can handle groups of 20-25, depending on the nature of the group. Each home is uniquely decorated: Southwest, Americana, Victorian, Hammer House (nautical), and Cabin. All but the Cabin have 2 bedrooms, living room, bathroom, and a fully furnished kitchen. At times we get first time feedback like, “Oh, this is much nicer than I expected!” Well, we have purposely made our guest houses attractive and comfy; maybe not plush, but certainly not rustic. Folks really don’t have to “rough it” at Antioch Ranch.
We have had honeymooners start their marriages off at Antioch Ranch and then return several years later with their children. One couple came every year to set their coming year’s life goals; socially, financially, spiritually, etc. Some families have had fantastic family reunions here, using all of our houses. Women’s prayer groups have met here. Pastors have come here with their church leaders for planning, prayer, and getting fresh vision. One precious lady from Hawaii came here to work on her book. It is now finished and we have it!
One very dear “sister” sent us a very appropriate little plaque that says, “Here a guest may have peace and rest.” Mendocino, and Antioch Ranch may not be “right on your way,” but it is always worth the journey.