The History of the CFR
In 1960, a group of young professionals and their families started a church in the community of West Simsbury. They obtained a farm and began the process of transforming it into a church. They called the entire property “The Center for Renewal”. They had a vision for a church, a school and a retreat facility on this property. The church was held in the hayloft of the old barn. Retreats were housed in the old farm house.
In 1970, The Master’s School built a K-5 Lower School building on the property of the Center for Renewal. A 5,000 square foot building with an open floor plan, the building was used for 13 years to educate students “from the inside out”.
In 1983, The Master’s School consolidated their property holdings and moved the Lower School to its present location on the Westledge Campus in West Simsbury. The BARN purchased the Lower School and moved the retreat house to its current location in the old Lower School.
For the next nine years, the retreat house was used by churches from around New England to host retreats. The Center for Renewal provided the facility but the churches provided the leadership.
In 1990, Kit and Tricia McDermott became directors of the Center for Renewal and began offering retreats in the historical tradition of contemplative retreats including silence, solitude and listening for the Father’s voice. These retreats ministered to individuals and groups. Bob and Barbara Japenga joined Kit and Tricia in 1991.
In 2008, Kit and Tricia left the Center for Renewal to plant a new church in Northampton, Massachusetts along with four other families from The BARN. In 2010, The BARN appointed Bob and Barbara to continue offering “Listening” Retreats to both individuals and organizations.
Over the next few years, God brought together an amazing team to carry on the vision of these original founders.