CLEVELAND — The leadership of Truett McConnell University has decided to provide a wonderful retreat center for pastors and all those engaged in vocational ministry. The center will be designed and dedicated for the purpose of bringing rest and refreshment to those servants of God who need a place of respite and relief from the never-ending challenges of a demanding ministry.
It is altogether fitting that the university has chosen to name the retreat center the Danny E. Watters Retreat and Renewal Center in memory of the beloved pastor and denominational statesman who passed away on April 30, 2015. The Center will be nestled in the North Georgia Mountains in a beautiful wooded area of the TMU campus in Cleveland.
When Georgia Baptist Mission Board Executive Director J. Robert White selected Danny Watters to lead the Church Minister Relations Ministry of the Mission Board it was widely reported, tongue-in-cheek, that while the executive director had made a great decision for Georgia Baptists, he had made a decision that would likely present him with a formidable challenge (Danny’s practical jokes and sanctified mischievousness are legendary).
White knew exactly what he was doing, because Watters was a dear and respected friend and one whom White knew he could trust to fulfill his role with effectiveness and compassion. The assignment White had given Watters was a perfect fit, because over the years Watters had proven himself to be a pastor to pastors.
White commented, “Danny was one of my dearest friends. However, I am not sure that I knew until after he went on home to be with the Lord how beloved he was, not just in Georgia, but all across the Southern Baptist Convention. I got telephone calls and contacts from pastors and leaders all across the convention speaking of their great love for Danny and his wife, Becky, and their sweet family.”
A reach beyond Georgia
As a pastor and a leader in the denomination Danny Watters endeared himself to ministers across the state and throughout the nation with his affable personality and genuine concern for others. He spent much of his life supporting, encouraging, assisting, and praying for pastors and those in vocational ministry.
Prior to assuming his role with the Georgia Baptist Mission Board Watters served as pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Tallapoosa, Spring Place Baptist Church in Chatsworth, and Beulah Baptist Church in Douglasville.
Truett McConnell President Emir Caner shared his dream of the Retreat and Renewal Center by saying, “We want to stage an area where pastors can come, relax, take a deep breath, and go back into ministry hopefully stronger and more passionate about the Lord.
“We don’t believe we can have a healthy college unless we have healthy churches and naming this center after Danny Watters – who invested his life not only in pastors, staff members, churches, and those who were hurting, but those also who just needed a piece of advice for the day or who needed a word of encouragement – is most appropriate. Danny was all that wrapped up into one person: a Barnabas and an apostle Paul. He was a hero to Georgia Baptists.”
Caner continued, “The love for Danny Watters was cross-generational. When I came to Truett McConnell eight years ago I was in my thirties and had never lived in Georgia. One of the first calls I got was from Danny, who encouraged me. I hope his name will live on in the new generation, because I know he wanted to invest in the new generation. We hope this landscape will provide a respite for a new generation of pastors.”
J. Robert White has expressed his gratitude to Caner and Truett McConnell for their vision to create the Watters Retreat and Renewal Center. In a recent video sent to pastors across the state he commented, “I know this center will meet a lot of needs and I am sure there are a lot of Georgia Baptists who would like to help make this become a reality by making a gift to this project.”
The total cost of the Retreat and Renewal Center will be approximately $1.5 million. Those interesting in knowing more about the Center or how to make a contribution should contact Gary Jarnagin at GJarnagin@Truett.edu or David Drake at DDrake@Truett.edu or call 706-865-2134 ext. 244.
You can help perpetuate the legacy of Danny Watters by giving to the Retreat and Renewal Center, which will be built to honor his memory.