Rick Holbrook helped transform the North Carolina Baptist Assembly at Fort Caswell from a summer camp destination into a year-round ministry for all ages.
BSC photo by K Brown
Brian Hemphill, from left, Fort Caswell director; John Butler, Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) executive leader for Business Services; Milton Hollifield, BSC executive director-treasurer; and Kathy and Rick Holbrook, celebrate Holbrook Village at Fort Caswell.
Now a section of the grounds at Fort Caswell will bear his name so future generations of visitors will remember his legacy. The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s (BSC) Board of Directors voted May 22 to name a central section of the Caswell property as Holbrook Village upon a recommendation made by the BSC’s Business Services Special Committee.
State convention leaders, board members and Caswell staff recognized Holbrook and his wife, Kathy, during a reception held in their honor as part of a regularly scheduled meeting of the convention’s board meeting at Fort Caswell. During the reception, officials unveiled a sign that will mark the area designated as Holbrook Village.
Holbrook retired at the end of May after 32 years as the N.C. Baptist Assembly’s director.
“I really appreciate this,” Holbrook said. “I’m not the kind of person who likes to be in the spotlight, but I appreciate what you’ve done here and the good words that have been said about Kathy. It’s obvious that this is the kind of operation where without the support of your family, you cannot achieve anything. You can’t even keep going.”
Holbrook also expressed appreciation to all current and former Caswell staff, calling them “one big family.”
Holbrook Village will be located in a central section of the Fort Caswell property along the Atlantic Ocean where Sandpiper cottage and three other residential buildings are located. Two additional cottages are planned for the Holbrook Village site, with construction scheduled to begin in 2018.
“This is a small way to honor you and all that you have given as an outstanding visionary leader,” BSC Executive Director-Treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. said in announcing the naming of Holbrook Village.
Since becoming the assembly’s director in 1985, Holbrook oversaw efforts that led to the construction of nine new buildings and renovations to 45 others. He also helped expand the number and types of camps, conferences, retreats and activities offered at Caswell, making the facility a popular destination throughout the year. Now, between 40,000 and 45,000 people attend activities at Caswell each year.
Holbrook’s focus was to use Caswell and the events hosted there as ministry opportunities. Since 2003, more than 6,000 individuals have made first-time professions of faith during the annual summer youth weeks, and thousands more have surrendered to a call to vocational ministry.
One of those individuals who felt a call to ministry during a trip to Caswell was Brian Hemphill, who has served alongside Holbrook in a variety of roles for the past 24 years. “It’s been an honor for me working with [Holbrook] and to have him serve as a mentor to me,” said Hemphill, who will become the next director of Caswell.
Hemphill’s life isn’t the only one that’s been touched by Holbrook.
John Butler, executive leader for the state convention’s Business Services group, said investing in other people and helping them grow is a big part of who Holbrook is.
“There’s an incredible amount of respect for Rick among the Caswell staff because he’s a great boss, and he really cares about his people,” Butler said. “People always want to tell me about how Mr. Holbrook has impacted their life.”