by: Dr. David Drake

CLEVELAND, Ga., – The psalmist wrote: “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord …” (Psalm 121:1-2 NASB).

The psalmist shared a rather unusual statement as to where one’s strength comes from when facing the challenges of life. When you stop and take time to stroll these North Georgia mountains in and around the campus of Truett McConnell University, there is something unique, even therapeutic, in what we so affectionately call, ‘God’s Country.’  This is indeed a beautiful place to find rest for one’s soul.

The challenges of Christian ministry today can often be insurmountable. Pastors, church staff and their families experience some of life’s most difficult and demanding situations. The expectations of those in vocational Christian ministry are all too often unreachable.

Recent statistics reveal those in ministry-related vocations are simply under pressure and under attack. For instance, 97% of pastors have been betrayed, falsely accused or hurt by their trusted friends; 94% of pastors’ families feel the pressure of ministry demands; 80% of pastors feel discouraged and 70% of pastors have battled some form of depression.

Out of the national workforce, those who serve in a Christian ministerial occupation are at a high risk of emotional and physical health problems and potential burnout. All too often, the cry of those in ministry is like that of King David in Psalm 142:4: “ … no one cares for my soul.”

These beautiful mountains desire to bring rest and peace to the weary soul through the serene comfort and retreat facility we are calling The Danny Watters Retreat and Renewal Center. This lodge is named in memory of Rev. Danny Watters, faithful pastor and servant within the Georgia and Southern Baptist Conventions for decades.

As pastor for 22 years of Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville, Ga., God was molding and shaping His servant to touch the lives of thousands of men and women in vocational Christian ministry.  For ten years, Watters served Georgia Baptists as a leader in the area of Church Ministry Relations. His death in April of 2015 sent a solemn signal that one of God’s best had experienced his final rest, and yet, his memory was to live on through the Danny Watters Retreat and Renewal Center.

Nestled on the border of the campus of Truett McConnell University, this retreat center will bring relaxation and rest to those who are traveling challenging roads of ministry involvement with comfortable and inviting suites and amenities in a peaceful setting.

President Dr. Emir Caner stated: “The churches of the Georgia Baptist Convention do not exist to serve Truett McConnell University, but Truett McConnell University exists to serve the churches of the Georgia Baptist Convention.”

One way TMU can serve is to provide a haven for rest to those faithful pastors and ministers who need a quiet retreat to rest their hearts and souls. 2 Kings 4:9-11 reveals the account of the sensitive heart of a woman and her husband who intentionally, and perhaps sacrificially, gave and devoted themselves to see the man of God comforted by providing a place of peace.

“Behold now,” it reads, “I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually. Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there. One day he came there and turned in to the upper chamber and rested.”

The goal of the Danny Watters Retreat and Renewal Center is to bring rest to servants of God in a place of peace. The heart of TMU and the help of the Lord has invited us in this strategic moment to build on this scenic campus property a place where a weary soul can find rest.

To find out more about the Danny Watters Retreat and Renewal Center, visit


Dr. David Drake is the Director of Church Relations at TMU.

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