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Epworth announces major renovation of Aldersgate Youth Village cabins

January 23, 2017
A major capital project to completely renovate Epworth By The Sea’s Aldersgate Youth Village has begun. All nine buildings will be made handicap accessible. Cost per building is $185,000. Total cost for nine buildings is $1,665,000.

Because of the generosity of an anonymous donor, the first building is under construction. Epworth Trustees have pledged to raise the funds for a second. Rev. Thad Haygood, an Epworth Trustee, has launched a campaign for former Leadership Team members to help fund the third building. All “Friends of Epworth” will participate.

“Our goal is to renovate two cabins a year,” said Joel Willis, Epworth CEO. “Because the cabins are in demand most of the year, construction must be done when they are not occupied. We do not want to turn down campers because a cabin is unavailable. We are well on our way but will need a lot of financial support.”

Ministry to children and youth has always been a priority for Epworth By The Sea. In 1949, the South Georgia Conference bought property of St. Simons Island for a conference and retreat center and began hosting summer camps for children and youth the following year.

In the early days, many of the boys slept outside while the girls slept in an apartment over the dining room. Churches provided their own counselors. Finally, six cabins were built in the mid-1950s, with the others done when funding was available. Though basic in construction and décor, they have served untold thousands of boys and girls. Constant upkeep and expensive renovation have been required in order to keep them in good order. Third and fourth generation families have stayed in the cabins.

“Time spent in Epworth’s cabins has deeply influenced the spiritual lives of thousands of young people as well as adults,” remarked Rev. Wayne Racz, Director of Spiritual Formation, Church Relations and Development. “Many of our South Georgia clergy accepted Christ on these grounds and have gone into the ministry and other areas of church service. The Rev. Thad Haygood is a perfect example of this.”

Willis says the costly renovation includes enclosing the porches to make larger gathering and bunk space, complete upgrade and enlarged bathroom facilities, counselors room upgrade, new flooring, new electrical system, central heat and air, paint, mattresses when needed and adding new porches and walkways between cabins.

“I am most excited that all of our cabins will meet all the American Disabilities Act (ADC) guidelines to be handicap accessible,” said Willis. “We will be able to accommodate every child and adult with special needs, offering them a camping experience often unavailable to this deserving and often under-served community. This is becoming more important every day.”

Racz concluded, “If you or a member of your family has ever stayed in the Aldersgate Youth Village Cabins, you understand the rich legacy of life-changing decisions for Christ which these experiences have made on so many.”

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