By Glenn Hannigan
Editor, North Georgia Advocate
It is a bucolic, heavily-wooded oasis just a short drive from Atlanta. The Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center, on the western edge of Gwinnett County and bordering the Chattahoochee River, has unquestioned beauty and charm.
What has been a more open question over the years: Is Simpsonwood being used to its best advantage?
This month, the North Georgia Conference is launching a new initiative with the hopes of helping Simpsonwood expand its influence and impact in North Georgia.
The Center for Renewal at Simpsonwood will be dedicated to fostering spiritual growth, health and wholeness.
“This is an opportunity for the North Georgia Conference to claim Simpsonwood as a place for ministry,” said Nanci Hicks, pastor of Mossy Creek UMC in Cleveland, who will serve as part-time director of the new venture. “Simpsonwood has been a hidden gem in the metro Atlanta area for years. We want to change that. We want to create a unique environment for people to find renewal, healing, and spiritual growth.”
Since 1985, Simpsonwood, which sits on a stunning 227-acre parcel, has hosted numerous conferences, meetings and special events. The facility has 22,000 square feet of meeting space and 26 separate meeting rooms that can accommodate groups up to 300 people. Four lodges have a total of 170 guestrooms.
In addition, there are miles of hiking trails, a large outdoor swimming pool, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. Simpsonwood also serves as the home office for the North Georgia Conference.
The Center for Renewal, which operates under the direction of Connectional Ministries, will offer specific programs throughout the year.
As its core mission, the Center will strive to:
• Offer opportunity for renewal through spiritual growth and educational opportunities;
• Create an atmosphere of renewal for God’s creation by promoting and using earth friendly practices;
• Advocate for healing and renewal of Simpsonwood Conference and Retreat Center.
The first event is scheduled for Aug. 21-23. The weekend retreat, called “Beyond Pills and Procedures,” will focus on spiritual healing. Attendees will “discover and experience practices with potential to progress healing and wholeness and practice holy rituals that engage the spirit, mind, and body. “
The second event, “Care for the Caregiver,” is scheduled to last a half-day on Sept. 11.
The Center for Renewal plans to partner with other regional organizations, such as Emory Hospital, Candler School of Theology, the new Center for Life Long Learning, the Atlanta Contemplative Worship Society and various certified counselors and therapists.
“I believe this is going to be something very special,” Hicks said. “We envision Simpsonwood as a special place for individual and congregational growth. We are seeking to create a culture of renewal and ministry.”
For more information, call Nanci Hicks at 706-969-1789 or go to www.simpsonwood.org.
This article appears in the August 7 edition of the North Georgia Advocate. To subscribe or renew, visit www.ngumc.org/advocate.