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LifeWay Ridgecrest dedicates new chapel

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–With a “come on in” greeting, officials at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center opened the doors to a new 300-seat Rutland Chapel April 10.

Built with a $1 million gift from the Rutland Family Foundation in Decatur, Ga., the chapel is a stone and wood structure set on a mountainside overlooking the North Carolina conference center complex. In addition to the chapel area, the building has conference and fellowship space.

Both Ridgecrest and LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico are owned and operated by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Mike Arrington, vice president of LifeWay’s corporate affairs division that oversees the conference centers area, welcomed guests to the dedication, saying the chapel was an answer to prayer and a first step in achieving a vision for the conference centers.

George Beverly Shea, longtime soloist with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and a resident of the area, sang during the dedication service. “What a beautiful chapel. It’s such a joy to be here with you,” he said.

Speaking about the Rutland family, Robert White, executive director of the Baptist State Convention of Georgia, said, “Every great building must have a solid foundation. It’s the same for every great family.”

He said a family must have a solid foundation based on faith.

“The Rutland family has that solid, faithful foundation because of Guy Rutland Sr.,” White added, saying the Rutland Family Foundation has been responsible, directly and indirectly, for chapels being built at First Baptist Church, Decatur, Ga., at Georgia Baptist Hospital, in all of Georgia’s medical centers and now at Ridgecrest.

The influence of the Rutland family, White said, has spread across the generations and the world. “It is remarkable to see the thread of faithfulness woven through this family.”

Representing the family, Guy Rutland III said, “We’ve been at Ridgecrest for conferences and events. We’ve heard sermons and seen people come to Christ here. We are just so thankful to be able to be a part of it and to get to be involved in these renovations.”

LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. thanked several involved in the dedication. To the Rutland family, he said, “It is a rare blessing to see a family who passes their faith on to each generation.”

To Arrington, Draper said, “If it weren’t for Mike’s vision and tenacity, this wouldn’t have happened. He has seen a real vision for the conference centers becoming more than they have been.”

About Shea, Draper said, “I just can’t imagine having this event without Bev Shea being here. When we called and asked him if he would come and sing, he said, ‘I’ll be there.’ We are deeply grateful.”

“This chapel,” Draper said, “is the first new construction at either Ridgecrest or Glorieta Conference Center in 30 years. As such, this chapel will set the tone for our renovations at both centers. Let this not be the last of our dreams.”

At a luncheon following the dedication ceremony, Byron Hill, national director of LifeWay Conference Centers, said the master plan for the new construction and renovations at the conference centers are being done to achieve a single goal. “We are about reaching people for Christ and transforming their lives. We’re not here just for Southern Baptists, but also for Methodists, Presbyterians, everyone. Our purpose is to see lives transformed,” he said.

Arrington thanked the guests for their interest in and encouragement of the construction and renovation projects at the conference centers.

“Donors know that 100 percent of the dollars go toward the project and ministry these donors want to support. LifeWay has a solid business foundation, so no donor dollars ever go to support our business operations,” he said. “This is something donors can feel good about.”

LifeWay is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Service and does not, nor has it ever, received Cooperative Program funds. All contributions to LifeWay are tax-deductible to the donor.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: NEW AT RIDGECREST, WORK OF ART, ADDING HIS VOICE, DRAPER’S WELCOME.

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