By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
LINDEN — Even during a worldwide pandemic, the two conference centers owned and operated by the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board are open and meeting the needs of churches during the fall and winter months.
“Even though COVID-19 is still among us, we’re still open and serving our guests,” said Mark Proctor, associate administrator of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center in Linden and Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center in Newport “are sacred places owned by Tennessee Baptists as places of rejuvenation, restoration and refuge,” Proctor said.
He noted that the greatest benefit offered by the conference centers is “serenity — a disconnection from the noise of the world and a reconnection with the stillness of God.”
Proctor encouraged churches to take advantage of the conference centers as they plan for group events or retreats for staff members.
Proctor said pastor and staff getaways are one of the most popular offerings of the conference centers. “Offered at $34 per night, Tennessee Baptist pastors and staff members can enjoy the serenity offered on the Buffalo River at Linden and on the English Mountain at Carson Springs Both facilities offer hiking trails, campfires and plenty of rocking chairs and hot coffee,” he said.
“Pastors enjoy a special get-away rate and church groups and staffs are finding an abundance of solitude in which to peer into the future and seek the face of God.”
The conference centers are adhering to new policies, practices and procedures during the pandemic. Arriving groups are now required to demonstrate proof of pre-travel screening before registration,” Proctor said.
He noted that group sizes are now more carefully monitored and kept to approximately 50 percent of their previous size while the number of guests per hotel room, per meeting room, and in activities are also more limited. The staff is being checked daily for symptoms and always wear masks and, if appropriate, gloves when serving our guests, he added.
Food-service and housekeeping staffs have been specially trained in disinfecting products and procedures and are taking special precautions to offer the best possible defense against on-site exposures, Proctor continued. “We know that our best defense against this virus — or any disease — is to take it seriously together with our guests.”
Chuck Workman, pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, Mount Juliet, recently scheduled a “Staff Recharge Weekend” at Linden Valley. He noted the church had added four staff members over several months.
The retreat allowed them to get leadership training and gave them time to plan together on how better to “reach our community and leading our church family,” he said.
Workman was also pleased with the services provided by the conference center and would “absolutely” schedule another event. “The staff was incredibly helpful and willing to go out of their way,” he said.
He added that the conference centers provide a multitude of meeting-type choices. “We were able to meet in a safe, socially distant manner for larger and more active elements in addition to meeting in smaller areas for Bible study or quiet time.”
For more information, visit www.tnbaptistcamps.org or call Carson Springs directly at 877-704-6336 or Linden Valley at 877-354-6336.