Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center to close May 7

Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) in Blackstone will close on May 7.

The Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) located in Blackstone will close its doors permanently on May 7.

The decision was made by the VUMAC board of directors at a meeting on March 11, according to Sam McCracken, VUMAC executive director.

On March 24, McCracken announced the decision by posting it on Facebook and on the VUMAC website.

"It is with heavy hearts that we have to inform you and your groups/events that the Board of Directors of VUMAC has made the painful decision to cease operations of VUMAC on May 7, 2016," McCracken wrote. "The Board reached the decision after much prayer. This decision was not an easy one, however in attempting to be good stewards of the facility entrusted to our care, this action had to be taken."

Reason for the closure, McCracken said, is primarily due to the decline of attendance at events held at the center over the last decade.

McCracken acknowledged employees who will be affected by the decision as well as residents of the community of Blackstone.

"We ask that you remember the employees, past and present, who have served the facility faithfully for many years," McCracken said in his statement. "We will always be indebted to them for their commitment to VUMAC."

Activities scheduled at VUMAC prior to May 7 will still be held at the facility, McCracken said, including a United Methodist Women’s (UMW) Spiritual Life retreat, Board of Ministry provisional meeting and the Nottaway High School Junior/Senior prom.

McCracken said plans are in place for a celebration service to officially close the center on April 30 at about 3 p.m. This will coincide with the presence of the UMW and alumni as well as Virginia's Historic Garden Week.

“The decision was a slow-coming process but now that it’s been made, a lot is happening quickly,” McCracken said.

He also said that VUMAC and the board will release more information as decisions are made and more information is available.

The facility was established in 1892 as The Blackstone Female Institute, a private, religious school for young women. The first year the school operated, it employed six teachers, housed 29 boarders and had 42 day students enrolled. At peak enrollment in 1920, the student body numbered approximately 500 pupils. The school operated under the auspices of the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South between 1894 and 1950.

In 1920 and 1922, two fires devastated the campus. Leaders of the college rebuilt the school on a smaller scale and reopened. In 1943, the college suspended operations for the duration of World War II, and school buildings were used as apartments by servicemen and their families. Classes resumed in 1945, but dwindling enrollment and the Korean War forced the college to close in 1950. The facility was then purchased by the Virginia Conference and converted into a retreat and conference center, which was opened in 1955.

Notable alumna of Blackstone include actress Bea Arthur and Violeta Chamorro, former president of Nicaragua.

In October 2011, in an effort to reach out to groups outside of The United Methodist Church, The Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center (VUMAC) changed the name under which it marketed itself to Blackstone Conference and Retreat Center.



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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
10330 Staples Mill Road, Glen Allen, VA 23060
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
(804) 521-1100
Click here for directions to the Center