The Powell/Warren Mountain House sits atop Long Arm Ridge in the Uwharrie Mountains of central North Carolina at Caraway Conference Center and Camp. From the cabin, guests can see for 11 miles. It is the perfect retreat for a minister looking to get away and relax.
Village Printing photo
The view, along with the solitude, are draws for ministers who are looking for a retreat at Caraway Conference Center’s Powell/Warren Mountain House.
“The location makes it very unique” explained Caraway camp director Jimmy Huffman in an interview with the Biblical Recorder. It is “very comfortable and well maintained” and – the icing on the cake – it’s free.
For years, Caraway offered a ministers’ cabin, which was located in the middle of the campus, but it was rarely used. It was eventually converted into office space, and the vision for the retreat house was born. While clearing land for the septic system, staff at Caraway noticed the view from Long Arm Ridge. It was the ideal place for the new ministers’ retreat.
Named the Powell/Warren Mountain House due to a generous gift from donors Don & MaryAnne Warren in honor of their parents, the retreat was dedicated on Sept. 27, 2011. The Warrens are members of Parkwood Baptist Church in Gastonia. Since opening, the cabin has housed more than 388 pastors, with 19 staying in the final months of 2011.
Many pastors come to “get away from stress; they need a quiet place to clear the noise and hear God speak,” according to Huffman. Myra Willard, wife of retired pastor Mike Willard agrees. In a phone interview with the Biblical Recorder she said they came “to get away for a couple of days to recuperate.”
During their visits to the cabin, Mike Willard was serving as an interim pastor at Pilot Mountain Baptist Church.
“It’s just really quiet; you don’t have a TV … just the mountains and the scenery,” said Willard. “We had time to read and just be quiet and talk to each other. Sometimes you’re so busy you can’t find time to do that.”
Huffman tries to meet every couple that comes and often shares a meal with them in the dining room. He estimates that 85 percent of ministers who stay at the retreat house are senior pastors, and most are from smaller congregations across the state. Huffman frequently hears comments like, “my wife and I would never have an opportunity to get away if not for this.”
Caraway has made it easy to rest and relax at the retreat house. It features cream colored walls, a high ceiling in the living room with a desk overlooking the mountains, a beautiful fireplace and rocking chairs on the back porch. The nicely equipped kitchen is stocked with coffee to “make [ministers] feel at home,” says Huffman. There is also a small Bose music system and CDs left for ministers to enjoy. The CDs and books in the cabin operate on a bit of a swap, according to Huffman.
Many ministers will leave a book or CD for others to enjoy, and some will also take one that speaks to them.
While the retreat house is not meant as a vacation spot, Caraway offers hiking trails, two lakes to fish or canoe on, an outdoor chapel overlooking the lake and tickets to the nearby Asheboro Zoo through their corporate membership.
Pastors also come to plan and write sermons. Caraway provides wireless internet to the house for that purpose.
In a guest book left on the property, one pastor states, “I enjoyed rest and also did some planning for the next several months. I now feel ready to go back to those daily demands and distractions.” He goes on to state, “Life cannot be lived here on the mountain, but this mountain retreat has sure helped me to go back … renewed and refreshed.” Another pastor claims, “This trip was the best study break I have had in years.”
Entry after entry in the guest book tells of the much-needed rest, refreshment, prayer time and time with their spouses that many pastors and their wives had while staying at the retreat house.
Huffman says that sometimes pastors send letters directly to him, and he has heard stories of pastors who are “ready to leave their church and ready to walk away,” but who stayed in the ministry or at their church after their time at the Powell/Warren cabin.
Huffman says it “stays booked” but Caraway operates it as a ministry and as such, “ministers can call the day before” to inquire about the occupancy of the mountain house. Ministers can stay once per year for up to five days. The first three days are free, and guests can choose to stay an additional two nights for $50 per night. When the Caraway kitchen is operating, pastors and their spouse can eat free for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations may be made up to one year in advance. Ministers are encouraged to bring their spouse, but the retreat is not suitable for children.
Since the cabin is offered free of charge, Caraway must recuperate its costs through their general budget. Huffman says that he hoped “ministers would see Caraway … and bring it back to their churches” by utilizing the conference center and camp for church retreats, meetings and activities. The retreat house costs around $14,000 per year to operate and maintain. If individuals or churches are interested in giving toward the retreat house, they can send a check to Caraway at PO Box 36, Asheboro, NC 27204 and designate it “Mountain House.”
For reservations at the Powell/Warren Mountain House, contact Caraway at (336) 629-2374 or email Rose at [email protected].