Nancy Baglan - August 2023
“The Congregational Summer Assembly.” Friends at home ask you why you go to this place in northern Michigan from Colorado…Massachusetts…New York…California…Washington.
You try to describe it but always feel you don’t quite have the right words. Over and over again, after rapturous descriptions of lakes and woods, tennis courts and golf courses, sunsets and sunrises – you finally say “it’s the people.” And it is the people who make it the remarkable community it is. As the sign on the white board says “We heart our volunteers.”
NANCY BAGLAN Citation 2023There are volunteers who extend their professional knowledge to contribute to the Assembly and there are volunteers who willingly take on mundane tasks that just need doing. But today we are recognizing someone whose guiding principle has been “If you have an interest in something, even if you don’t know anything about it, go for it!!” Because she lived by that and set her mind to learning about her interest we have a much richer environment here – NANCY BAGLAN.
Like many recipients of the Citation for Long and Valued Service, Nancy insists “I haven’t done anything special. Other people have done so much.” Of course, many people have done many things – but let me tell you a bit about Nancy.

Her background was in the physical sciences – in chemistry/physics/math, and she was working in a research lab at Washington University in St. Louis where her husband Bob had entered medical school (at age 30 after several years of teaching physics at Vanderbilt). He went back to school and she went back to work – now with 2-year-old twin daughters, Kathy and Julie. And it was that decision that brings us to today.
In the adjoining lab at Washington University was a co-worker whose husband had a family connection to the CSA. Claire’s description of the Assembly sounded good to Nancy and Bob, so in 1978 she called the Assembly office to find out if there were any rentals. As a result, they rented the Harbison’s cottage in June of that year, and even though it was cold, they loved it and kept coming back, finally realizing this was a lifetime commitment. In 1989 they bought the Hutter cottage at the top of Fuller Avenue.
As for many of us, pre-retirement summers allowed limited time for vacation so her volunteer work seemed pretty much limited to pulling lots of garlic mustard. But retirement allowed them to spend full seasons here in Pilgrim and she began volunteering in earnest. In 2005 she joined the Ecology Committee where she learned about invasive species and the environmental threats they pose. Because Nancy is a scientist she has always looked to science and accurate information to guide her in her work, so when she became chair of the Ecology Committee she audited two Ecology courses at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She worked with Julia Nerbonne and the Harris World Ecology Center on a program of environmental education for young children and a scientific assessment of our woods. Their report was published in 2009 and in the years that followed Nancy tried to follow up on their recommendations.
While Nancy tends to give others well deserved credit for their work, a significant reason some of the projects got started is because of her ability to seek out and collaborate with organizations outside the CSA and to draw people into the possibilities of what can be done. 
Just a few of the Ecology Projects that have been undertaken, with support from the Pilgrim Fund, the Women’s Association, and the CSA Board include:
  • The Ecology Fun program - which has seen large numbers of children enrolled each year
  • Internships for college-age students
  • A Junior Ecology Intern program for students aged 12-16 – from both Frankfort and the CSA
  • A community cleanup at Crystal Beach to remove invasive plants, teaching others how to identify common invasives
  • Replacement of invasive species with native plantings in an area of CSA forest
  • ID Guides to “Summer Birds of the CSA,” “Native Wildflowers at CSA,” “Invasive Species at the CSA”
If you look along the left side windows of the Meeting House you will see the winding path along the Native Species Garden. At Nancy’s suggestion this was taken on as a project. It’s lovely and educational – and when I first arrived this summer, 11 years after it was planted – I saw Nancy out there watering the plants and refreshing labels. If you have enjoyed the sunny Butterfly-Pollinator Garden on the M-22 side of the Assembly building you should know that Nancy asked Carolyn Thayer to work with the junior ecology interns to develop that 10 years ago. True to her focus on having the young people learn from their activities, the maintenance staff pulled out all the old woody shrubs that had grown there and the kids planted the garden of colorful flowers that are butterfly magnets.
Nancy has formed more than 20 different partnerships outside the CSA. No one who had the chance to take part in the popular bird banding activities will forget what they saw and learned from the experts brought in from the Benzie Audubon Club. This summer dozens of snakes were brought to the Community Room where children and adults had a chance to learn, see, touch, and hold.
When Bob became ill Nancy cut back on her intensive involvement, but she has never cut back on her interest or her active lifelong learning. And she continues to live by the motto of the true volunteer: “Just Start – Be Involved!”
Nancy – thank you so much for what you have done to teach and show us what we can do to protect and enhance our natural surroundings – and especially for helping create programs that have engaged our children in that learning. I know that whenever my brother’s kids, now in their 20’s, arrive at the Assembly they go to visit the maple tree they planted near the Lake Michigan courts when they were junior interns.
“If you have an interest in something – go for it!”

Judy Rodes - July 2022

230m6cit Judy RodesThe membership of the Congregational Summer Assembly is composed of a multitude of people who are talented, capable, hardworking, and eager to be of assistance. Most of us realize that the Assembly, as we know it, could not remain in existence without such people. Some of these people are officers and members of the Board who ensure that all of the fine details of the operation of everything at the CSA run smoothly and are organized properly. Other people make contributions of a structural genre, such as helping put the lifelines in, working with the CSA Art Fair and Cottage Treasures, building kayak racks, or setting up the family night dinners. Others are more spiritual, such as Bible Study Groups or singing in the choir. Others provide service in helping members through difficult times with grace. Still, others play their part by providing various activities which make our time while we are vacationing here so enjoyable, such as tennis tournaments, water carnivals, ecology instruction, operettas (both children’s and adults’), and Stunt Nights. The level of volunteerism is unbelievable!

The Citation Committee has the challenging but enjoyable task of making it possible for the general membership of CSA to have an opportunity to recognize people that routinely go above and beyond the normal expectations of this wonderful community and its contributions to their own quality of life. We do this by publicly recognizing their exceptional levels of devotion to the CSA.

This year, we have selected a person who has been on the CSA Education Fund for many years. This group raises money to provide scholarships to assist not only our own college-age students, but also for needy local high school graduates to continue their studies. She was a member of the Spiritual Life Committee and, at one time, was on the board of both the Wildwood and Golf Lane Associations. In addition, she has, over her adult life, faithfully sung in the CSA Church Sunday morning choir.

She is, however, more renowned for being one of the “movers and shakers” in the CSA Operetta productions, which offer opportunities for artistic participation for both adults and children that have delighted audiences and participants for more than seventy years. The tradition of having a musical production began back in the 1930s and 40s. But many of us have been in one or more children’s operettas as we were growing up and look back with great glee remembering those performances. Likewise, many of us remember getting involved with an adult production by singing, acting, or being part of the stage crew. Although our 2022 recipient has played significant roles in several operettas on both levels, she has moved beyond being merely a thespian. Back in 1985, she began to assist in directing the children’s operettas and eventually moved into the director role. She also became a director of one adult operetta in 2003. She continues to hold these roles to the present time. It is her particular delight that this summer, she had the opportunity to direct her grandchildren in the operetta, “One Cray, Cray Day at the CSA.”

We found it interesting that she met her husband at the CSA many years ago when he came for a summer visit in the late 1950’s with his family, and then returned to become an integral part of the CSA community. Wonderful things happen here!

With great pleasure, we recognize the 2022 recipient of the Citation for Long and Valued Service, Judy Stewart Rodes.

    Gary and Judy Dawley - July 2021

Citation to DawleysThis last year and a half has tested the stamina of the people of our entire nation, as our ability to relate to, and to serve, others has been rather severely restricted. We have masked, practiced social distancing, depended on ordering goods on line, and been in isolation or even quarantine. Now that we are able to return to the CSA, not only in spirit , but in person, we are blessed to find that "everything is just like we remember it", for most things here at the Assembly. We all depend on the serenity, the natural beauty, and the fellowship we not only enjoy, but assume to be here for us, upon our return. All of that is due to the efforts of dedicated CSA members who often work "behind the scenes" so that we are able to come back to what we know and love. While we are here at the Congregational Summer Assembly, we are blessed by being surrounded not only by natural beauty, but by being part of a wonderful community of people who have learned over the years to do things for others, as they practice what we call, the "the Assembly Way". It is because these people contribute their time and energy in their own myriad of ways, that we continue to have this special oasis of calm, joy, beauty and fun year after year. We can all "re-charge our batteries" for whatever the upcoming year challenges us to do.

The Citation Committee has the delightful duty of publicly recognizing and celebrating the contributions of such people through the awarding the Citation for Long and Valued Service. This year's recipients were supposed to receive this award in 2020, but due to the pandemic, we have had to make them wait until today to be recognized. Permit me to share with you why this couple is so precious to all of us.

He has been an Assembly person for his entire life. We discovered that, when he was a teenager, he was awarded the Citizenship Award for contributions made at a time of his life when most people are very self-focused. His name is on the trophy cup which is in the Office Building, which you can check out the next time you are in the Office. He has continued his contributions over the years by designing and building sets for operettas, as well as performing in a few, singing in the choir, serving on the budget committee, on the Endowment committee, and on the Executive Committee. He served 3 years as a Trustee, and he has been Treasurer of the Executive Board for many years. The financial stability of the entire Congregational Summer Assembly has been strengthened by his expertise.

She, in her words," married in to this wonderful place". She is a hard working and loyal contributor to a wide range of Assembly programs. For example, she has played an active role in the Womens' Association, serving on the board and also as Assistant Treasurer. She has also served on the Membership Committee and on the Youth Committee. She has been very helpful by working on the stage crews for both the childrens' and adult operettas. She has helped out as Assistant Archivist for many years. Her most visible contribution can be seen in the Office Building. She made that beautiful valance which tops the windows in the great room where we all have enjoyed potluck dinners, childrens' dancing, the Cottage Treasures sale, and the Artists and Artisans Days.

The Citation Committee is so pleased to finally have the opportunity to formally and gratefully recognize the long and faithful service of Gary and Judy Dawley!



We are living in a fast-paced world, where our daily schedules and demands on our time are most certainly not what was typical when the CSA was first established. And yet, we still have people ready to go that extra mile and demonstrate what is meant by "the Assembly Way."

The Citation Committee has the challenging task each year of recognizing individuals who have done so much to allow our way of life here at the CSA to proceed smoothly. Much of this effort goes largely unnoticed by the general population, but the result blesses us all! For example, they may be seen building scenery for the operettas, or maybe they make the road signs for the shady lanes where our cottages are found. Maybe they work on a committee to raise money for scholarship assistance for Assembly college students and well as others in Benzie County. Maybe they work to provide activities for our youth who have outgrown Monday night dancing. Maybe they participate in the Artists and Artisan's Day to share their artistic talents with interested people. Maybe they serve on the Board of Trustees or on various established committees of the Assembly. Maybe they help with the transition of the Crystal View from a gas station of long ago, to the quaint eating spot overlooking the lake that it has become. Sometimes they step up to repair or modernize the Meeting House facilities. Maybe they work to provide man-power for the Annual Art Fair and its ever-so-important-Cottage Treasures event. Our 2019 recipients can say, "Been there, done that!" to all of the above. They've found so many ways to be of service ever since their introduction to the CSA in the late 1940's when they were very young. Perhaps they picked up that attitude of being involved from previous CSA donors of time, energy, ideas and effort.

What's more, our beloved CSA is not the only organization for vacationers around this lake. But it's interesting to note that the efforts by CSA members such as our recipients, have had a spill-down effect on other such organizations, inspiring some of them to reach out to the needs of others in ways which resemble the pioneer work done by CSA. The sharing spirit grows and moves goes beyond our borders!

In the words of our 2019 recipients, "If you have an idea to enrich the Assembly, explore it! If you see a way to be of help, step up to the task!" Our summer paradise could not survive without such individuals! With pleasure, we announce that the recipients of the 2019 Citation for Long and Valued Service is awarded to Cynnie and Carl Hood.


Most of the population of the CSA is aware that it is the voluntary contributions of many people that allows our beloved CSA to continue to provide the place, the activities, and the nurturing spirit which we all experience in our time together here. Many of us are not in a position to observe the contributions made by certain people who step up to help in various ways, lending their help with something they feel could be good for the community at large. Sometimes this involves an ability to sense when and where something needs to be restored, provided or improved upon. Such people volunteer quietly and without fanfare as they provide their energies and expertise, in order that this improvement will come to fruition. They rarely are interested in a lot of fuss and fanfare. They make their contributions working towards a goal, individually, as part of an ad hoc group, or possibly on established committees at the Assembly.

One of the tenets that hasn't changed is the spirit of giving back to the community. Volunteering is what "makes the buggy run." (This could also be stated as The Assembly Way.) This is a special place, filled with special people, and we are all better people for being a part of it. Our recipients feel that "The least that any of us can do to show our fondness and appreciation for this nurturing place, is to share a bit of our time, talents, or intellect back with the community, from which we benefit so greatly."

Our recipients preferred that we not make mention of their rather long list of a lifetime of volunteer contributions to the Assembly community. In respect for their request, that will not be iterated today. It is with great pleasure and appreciation, that I have the privilege of presenting the Citation for Long and Valued Service to two people who have, year after year, done their part to "make the buggy run" here at the CSA, Jay and Anne Burt.



Pat Baker, awarded the 2017 Citation Award, has provided countless hours of service to the CSA in a myriad of ways. Pat was born in Illinois. She was introduced to the CSA by her grandparents who first tented here in 1912 and 1913. After that they stayed in the lodge for several years, and then they went on to build a cottage across from the original meeting house, where she and her brothers enjoyed their childhood and teen summers. She was married after college and as a young mother she did not come up to the CSA for about 25 years due to the interests and needs of her children. In the late 1970’s she returned and rented various cottages until she built her own cottage in 1994. Because of her love of music she promptly re-joined the choir where she was welcomed by the booming voice of her childhood idol, Tom Williams, saying “Well, look who’s back!” She’s been in the choir ever since!

Over the past 30 years she got involved with the Women’s Association and served as Vice President and remembers helping to find speakers for the two “coffee meetings” each summer. She made a square for the Centennial Quilt and helped with the formation of the squares into a proper quilt. She has been on the Crystal View Committee and has been a regular contributor to the gardens located near the Meeting House, the Assembly Building and Crystal View. The road signs on the CSA were all painted by her.

You have seen Pat on the stage in 10 Operettas and she has helped many times with costumes and props. She was part of the chorus which sang the Centennial Concert and she continues to help the choir by gathering, sorting and repairing choir music. She has organized several sing-along evenings and even prepared song sheets for all who came.

She is particularly admired for her devotion to the removal of garlic mustard on the grounds working singly, as well as, inspiring others to join in the fun.

Pat is also an artist, and every year, at the Authors and Artisans Fair, she sells note cards and photos taken by her depicting scenes on the CSA grounds. Her photograph of the Meeting House was donated to the CSA and hangs over the fireplace in Pilgrim Place. One of her photographs is the cover of the Centennial Concert disc.

She is quite a fan of tennis and has participated many times in CSA tennis tournaments. She was the driving force in setting up the Adult Round Robin tennis activity ever week during the summer. She was the powerhouse behind getting the shuffleboard court restored.

It is our pleasure to present the 2017 Citation for Long and Valued Service to Pat Milligan Baker. She is a living example of a person who steps forward to help when something needs to be done!

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