Glisson benefactors step up to support new dining facility


      It is a matter of simple math. If you are going to feed the multitudes, you need a place for multitudes to sit. Of course, for the increasing throngs which convene regularly at Camp Glisson, there is no physical way to serve all the guests at the same time in the outdated and overwhelmed dining hall. Meals are often served in shifts.
      What else can you do when you have 400 guests and a dining hall with a capacity of 170?
      “We pack in as many people as the fire marshall with let us,” said Brad McEntyre, Glisson’s director, “but still have to serve each meal twice during summer camp and full retreat weekends. The current dining hall is 62 years old, which is well beyond the typical life cycle for a facility that is so heavily used. The time has come for us to update our facilities.”
        Campers and guests who have recently visited Glisson, located in the dense, rolling  hills just north of the Dahlonega square, understand the need for new dining facilities.
         At the end of World War II, the original cabins and dining hall built in the 1920s and 30s were renovated. In the past 15 years, the aging rustic cabins have been replaced by contemporary, comfortable quarters. In addition, various bright new buildings with modern meeting facilities have been added. But the most used building in the camp has remained the same.
                 “The dining hall is the only facility without which the entire ministry could not exist,” said McEntyre. “The sharing of a common table is fundamental to building Christian community. By creating enough room for the entire Glisson community to break bread together, a new dining center will heighten the sense of community that is at the heart of the camping and retreat ministry.”
        In response, the Glisson Camp and Retreat Center has launched “Serving Generations,” a capital campaign to raise $4.9 million to build new dining facilities for future generations. It is the most ambitious initiative in Glisson’s history.
     The new dining hall will have a seating capacity of 450 people, a lobby and gathering area that will accommodate 100 guests, adding much-needed space for group interaction and casual gatherings. It will feature a commercial kitchen and a lower level with space for the relocated camp store, a prayer chapel, a large meeting room, storage and a casual gathering area.
      The current dining hall will be preserved for use as program space.
        In 2011, an anonymous donor offered a matching gift of up to $500,000, which has been met. As of Feb. 1, the campaign has received $2.31 million in commitments, which is 56 percent of the goal.
     “A friend of Glisson has recently made a generous offer,” said Phil Dodson.   “They’ve made a challenge offer of $750,000, to represent the ‘last dollars in’ gift. Once we achieve $4.15 million in commitments, we will be able to claim this challenge and then plan a groundbreaking celebration.”
In addition to the new dining hall, the Serving Generations campaign will also provide for a new entry at the south side of Glisson property, for large service vehicles, and a double cabin, named for former Glisson Director Bob Lanford, to house summer staff as well as small retreat groups.  
        The new south entry will improve camper safety by removing large service vehicles from the center of camp.
 For more information
      Your support of the Serving Generations campaign will help to ensure Glisson’s continued presence as a place where future leaders are developed in the midst of God’s Creation. To learn more about the efforts that led us to launch this campaign, and to learn more about how you can get involved, please visit