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150-Acre Christian Retreat Center, outside Long Valley, Ideal Place for Inner Renewal

Jun 20, 2022 12:36PM ● By Alexander Rivero, Staff Writer

High atop of Schooley’s Mountain, within the Hunterdon, Morris, and Warren county triangle, right outside Long Valley and Califon, there is a spacious, green sprawl of land called Liebenzell Retreat Ministries that caters to groups interested in growing and experiencing inner transformation through Jesus Christ. The center, operating as a non-profit organization, is in a beautiful, natural environment covering 150 acres in northwestern New Jersey. With two main housing units, a full dining facility with chef, game room, playground, a chapel and a full lounge room, swimming pool and a load of other excellent amenities, the Christian-based Liebenzell is very much a self-contained universe. 

   Typical groups vary, but all come for a spiritual renewal, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. 

   “A group would want to come here for one or two nights,” says Patrice Schaffer, Guest Relations Manager at Liebenzell. “We have men’s groups, women’s groups. Schools, youth groups. Summertime programs. Young adult programs. We have cultures of all varieties coming in, many of them at regular intervals throughout the year.” 

   A big chunk of the incoming groups for Liebenzell, says Schaffer, come from churches and other Christian organizations. The retreat center dedicates a considerable amount of time to reach-out efforts, not all of them to institutions immediately nearby. Some regular clients come in from Long Island, Staten Island, Manhattan, and many as far out as Philadelphia, rural parts of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. 

   Schaffer’s current role at Liebenzell has her focusing on trying to get the community to know what the retreat center is all about. At the time Schaffer sat for a phone interview, Liebenzell had just wrapped up a luncheon with the local chamber. The event was a full speaking engagement with a beautiful lunch prepared by the staff chef. About forty people attended the outreach event, all a wonderful success.

   “Much of our community doesn’t know what we do at all,” says Schaffer. “They think we’re a church and that they’re not invited. And we’re trying to fix that.” 

   Other efforts to connect with local initiatives include Liebenzell’s partnering up with Sarge’s Discipline for 5k challenge on June 12. 

   “We’re also interested in branching out and meeting with any kind of organization that wants to do some fundraising to come to Liebenzell and see the property,” Schaffer says. 

   Asked what her favorite part of working at Liebenzell is, Schaffer responded that it was the people.

   “I love meeting the people that come here, absolutely,” she says. “We welcome all different kinds of groups and it’s a real treat to meet them all and get to know them a bit.”

   Upon a group’s arrival, Schaffer shows the groups its lodging and recreational areas, and throughout their stay, she says she learns quite a bit about them. 

   “I don’t know how to speak much Spanish,” she laughs, “but I’m picking up enough of it to be able to muddle through basic conversations. It’s a pleasure for me to learn about these different cultures—Asian groups, African groups—what they each bring to the table and how they all deal with the experiences of their individual retreats.”  

   Liebenzell’s business profile also includes a missionary element, contained under its global division. This division looks for missionaries to go throughout different parts of the world to proclaim the word of God. So, for those willing to become missionaries, Liebenzell offers them support, serving as conduits in managing and disbursing incoming funds to support its missionaries in the field. 

Some missionaries, having spent years in the field, return to Liebenzell and stay on the campus grounds for a bit before moving onto a new life path. Liebenzell houses them, and many of them continue working on the campus grounds. 

   The organization itself is clearly Christian based, and prior to having any group come in, it has that group sign a statement of faith proclaiming Liebenzell’s basic beliefs: in the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Resurrection, and our inevitable reunification after death. To secure the full booking, groups are to provide a deposit and a signed copy of that contract.

   “We can, as an organization, proclaim the Word of God,” says Schaffer, “and so we must share it with people outside of the faith, absolutely.” 

 Versatility is perhaps the key word in describing what Liebenzell can offer. Baptisms, for instance, are yet another service possibility, and Liebenzell has its own pool for such occasions. 

  “We have had meditation groups come up, with professional masseuses,” says Schaffer. “Health and wellness retreats, we have hayrides in the fall, bonfires, picnic areas. We’ve had bands come in and make full use of our 200-plus person capacity auditorium.” 

  After a tough year of losses for the organization due to the pandemic, Liebenzell is ready to re-engage with and welcome visitors.

 For more information on Liebenzell Retreat Center, please check out their website at