The Meaning of Kanuga

There are several places that hold a LOT of meaning in our lives. They are the places that truly shape us. They are places that are sometimes considered “happy places”- it may not be a city or a country. It might be a particular location (like the theater). Located in Hendersonville, NC—-there is an Episcopalian Conference Center called Kanuga, where Parish Retreats, conferences, and Holidays happen. It isn’t some random place- it means a lot to me.


These were important years of my spiritual journey. Fran McKendree, a Folk Musician, was leading our music. We learned songs like “Sanctuary”, “Lord of the Dance”, “Servant Song”, “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High”, and “Celtic Blessing”. That was the start of my love for Contemporary Christian music.

Then, there were the hikes. At first, I wasn’t a hiking leader, but just a part of the hiking group. The combo of the songs and the hiking made me start to realize God was real. Kanuga was where my spiritual journey truly began. We stay in cottages (unless you want the inn or Guest Houses) during the Parish Retreats and other events.

Soon enough, I became a hiking leader- either we go up the Long Rocks Trial or the Eagle Rock Trial. In my opinion, the BEST Kanuga trial is Eagle Rock- yes more difficult, but better. I actually made my hiking stick during Thanksgiving at Kanuga.

One very special time at Kanuga was Winterlight, a high school youth conference from December 27th-January 1st. We sing three times a day, hang out with our small groups (part is usually icebreakers, part teamwork, and part service project. In addition, there is the New Year’s Eve banquet, Eucharist, and the New Year’s Eve Dance. They always do something special for the Seniors. My first service project was making blankets for migrant workers and the 2nd was making meals for the hungry. The activities we do with our small group is usually connected to the overall theme of the week.

Most of the Kanuga trips were Parish Retreats. They usually have singing, free time (various activities are offered or you could do your own thing), youth and adult programs and socials, and church services usually at the lakeside. Hiking is one of my favorite free time things to do- I usually chose Eagle Rock, but sometimes go for Long Rocks. Below are pictures from other Kanuga retreats.

Fun fact- the picture below is from my first Kanuga back in 1996. Yes, I was still living in Atlanta and the place didn’t mean anything to me until I started going with my Charlotte church. So, I somehow went from hiking on my dad’s back to becoming a hiking leader. Kanuga is a place to relax, to connect, and to bond. I am a mountain person, not a beach person. I feel much more connected to Him in the mountains.

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