At Locust Springs,
Facility Has Grown
But Key Principles
Remain The Same
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Locust Springs Christian Retreat Center began as a pavilion located on a large, undeveloped plot in northern Greene County.
Now, 20 years later, the center has flourished to become a popular Christian recreation/retreat site and evangelical outreach, with facilities for small and large group meetings, a chapel, water slide, playground, archery area, lake, and more.
Even the site has grown from 85 acres to 165 acres.
"A thing like this 'don't just happen,'" said Robert "Bob" Bailey with a twinkle evident in his eye.
Bailey, an attorney and the president of the retreat's board of directors, was a major factor in the development of the retreat center 20 years ago.
On Sunday evening, he helped to lead and organize a 20th anniversary celebration under the very pavilion under which his church, First Church of God, celebrated the retreat center's opening two decades earlier.
"It all began with an idea developed by a mission group from [First Church of God] who did a mission trip to Juneau, Alaska," Bailey said. "Who, on return, promoted the need for a local retreat center where Christians could gather in a natural environment."
This resulted in a special called meeting of the church on May 26, 1993, led by Pastor Charles Heater, Bailey said.
A proposal to purchase property in the northern part of the county met with "overwhelming approval" at more than 90 percent of the vote, he added.
CHARTER IN 1993
The church developed the site as a non-profit religious organization, with the charter granted on July 29, 1993.
"Immediately after the charter was approved, retreat bylaws were approved, providing for 11 elected board members from the church congregation -- thereby providing continuity to church doctrine in the organization," Bailey said.
"A few years later, it was recognized that our sister churches should be involved in retreat operations, and bylaws changed to allow for three directors from sister organizations."
Bailey recognized all 39 persons who have served on the board, four of whom he said are now deceased.
He especially noted those who have served in the position of chairman of the board of directors: Jerald Jaynes, Steve Ottinger and Raymond Shelton. Bailey has also served as chairman.
"There are many others who have contributed to the success of Locust Springs, particularly in planning, construction of facilities, work in maintenance and upkeep, thrift store operations, and more," Bailey said, recognizing those as well.
"You can take great pride in knowing that over 50,000 persons have visited the retreat over these 20 years, with more than some 200 having found the Lord," he said.
In the past year alone, he added that there were 7,400 visitors and 39 known professions of salvation.
Bailey concluded his remarks by recognizing three couples who have served as retreat directors over the years: Dick and Betty Newman, Jefff and Karen Jones, and Connie and Tad McBride.
"Now, let us look forward to our 25th anniversary," Bailey said.
Those present also heard from Paul Jones, missionary to Bolivia, who shared a devotion from Philippians chapter 1, verses 3-5, in which he pointed to the partnership Paul felt with the church at Philippi.
"This retreat center here is a part of [the Bolivian church] too, because we extend throughout the world," Jones said. "It is all for the cause of Christ."