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Ridgecrest, in midst of upgrade, continues life-changing legacy

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–From Rocking Chair Ridge to the Nibble Nook, LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center is full of sites that remind Bill Moseley of his 50-year history with the retreat nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“When I drive on campus, all sorts of memories come flooding in,” said Moseley, a retired International Mission Board missionary who committed his life to fulltime ministry at the conference center. “I’m thoroughly sold on Ridgecrest, 100 percent.”

Moseley is not the only person willing to testify of the conference center’s life-changing impact. Bobby Haley, also of Easley S.C., accepted his call into fulltime ministry at Ridgecrest in 1964.

“At that time, I didn’t know the direction my life was going to take,” Haley said. “The Lord was dealing with me. I went to the prayer garden and had a talk with the Lord, and when I finished the summer, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and into the ministry.”

From 1968 until 1999, Haley didn’t miss a summer at Ridgecrest, bringing youth groups, Sunday School teachers and other church leaders to the conference center to help equip them for service.

The former minister of education at Pickens (S.C.) First Baptist Church noted that over the years, he has seen the 97-year-old conference center change, and it needs some upgrading.

That’s where Bill Keesling’s job starts. Based in Greenville, S.C., he is a regional development specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources with responsibility for raising funds for the conference center’s revitalization.

Launched in 2001, the goal of the revitalization project is to prepare the conference center for many more years of service. Newly constructed 300-seat Rutland Chapel and the 120-room Mountain Laurel Inn are part of the process. Work on the T.W. Wilson Prayer Garden, at the base of Rutland Chapel, is well underway.

But to continue improving the facilities, financial help is needed.

“There are several opportunities for people to help,” Keesling said. People can honor loved ones or others by naming a room for them in the Mountain Laurel Inn. As part of the T.W. Wilson Prayer Garden, people will have the chance to buy a paver, an engraved paving stone with a message of their choice, to help support the expense of the project.

“These enhancements are going to make Ridgecrest more significant in people’s lives,” Keesling said.

Last year more than 2,300 spiritual decisions were made at Ridgecrest, testimony to the fact that the conference center touches thousands of people every year.

People like Haley and Moseley know just how special Ridgecrest can be once it makes its way into a life.

“Ridgecrest kind of reminds me of what heaven’s gonna be like,” Haley said. “Everyone’s there for the same reason — not only to train but to experience worship together.”

Moseley, whose first visit to Ridgecrest was with his parents in 1954, joked, saying, “If I can’t be at Ridgecrest, I love to talk about it.

“To visit Ridgecrest helps me spiritually and emotionally. It helped strengthen my roots in godly parents who sought spiritual training for their children and helps me reflect on God’s plan for my life and how faithful He has been since July 1954.”

Moseley served on Ridgecrest’s staff for two years and committed his life to fulltime Christian service at the conference center. He has also passed on the Ridgecrest tradition to his own children.

All three of his children worked there in 1986, and in 2000 his daughter and son-in-law were commissioned as missionaries to Brazil at Ridgecrest, 45 years to the month after Moseley made his commitment.

“More than anything, I want people to know that Ridgecrest is a place that changes lives,” Keesling said. “It’s a place that encourages spiritual growth and we want to keep it that way.”
For more information on Ridgecrest, visit www.lifeway.com and click on the conference centers link.

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  • Leslie Ann Shoemake