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America’s Keswick: A History of Transforming Lives through Retreats, Conferences, and the Colony of Mercy Addiction Recovery Program

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By Rachel Mari

Known as a place “where God speaks to hearts and transforms lives,” America’s Keswick, in Whiting, NJ has been ministering to men, women, and families for over 120 years. Serving as both a Christian retreat and conference center and addiction recovery center, it reaches those both inside and outside of the church.

“We have the joy of seeing people’s lives transformed!” said President and CEO Bill Welte, “There is no greater joy than to see a man, woman, teen, or child learn to live victoriously in this crazy world. The ministry is all about Him! It is all about people!”

This summer, the theme of all of the conference events at Keswick is “Soul’d Out Relentlessly Pursuing Christ.” The center will host a full calendar of events, including five different family weeks throughout the months of July and August. These weeks feature special guest speakers, times of worship, activities for kids, water activities at the lake, and more. Additional summer events include a Young at Heart week in August and a special Labor Day Weekend celebration.

Besides the conference aspect, the other key part of what happens at America’s Keswick is the work done with those in addiction recovery. The campus is home to the Colony of Mercy, an addiction recovery program for men that dates back to 1897 when it was founded by William Raws. Called “the heart of the ministry,” the Colony of Mercy welcomes men from all walks of life—wealthy, homeless, Christian, and unchurched—into a 120-day minimum residential, work-study program, the only one of its kind in the country. Over the years, more than 20,000 men have come through the Colony. In addition, in 2014, America’s Keswick added Barbara’s Place, a program to minister to women in addiction.

Along with its programs, Keswick offers several community outreaches and prayer support and devotional tools through its website. There is also a thrift store on the grounds that is open to the public.

“Our desire is to serve people,” said Welte. “We have been serving men in addiction since 1897 and that vision has expanded to reach families. We are committed to teaching people to walk in victory. We are here to assist the local church in helping people.”

For more information on America’s Keswick, visit www.americaskeswick.org or call (732) 350-1187.