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UMTV: Hinton Center Renews Small Churches



Nestled in the mountains near Hayesville, North Carolina is a facility that invites guests to "retreat, reflect, and renew." This United Methodist center specializes in helping rural churches do more effective ministry and find resources and support. In late 2011, the Hinton Center marked a special milestone, too.

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(graphic) The Hinton Rural Life Center celebrated 50 years of ministry in 2011. The retreat center sits on 33 acres in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

(Warne, North Carolina)

The Rev. Geraldine McClellan, Board Member, Hinton Rural Life Center:
"This is a place that has a peace that is almost unexplainable, that you can sit out on the porch and just see the wonders of God and feel the presence of God just moving. It's a renewing kind of a place."

(graphic) Hinton offers mission opportunities, as well as strategic planning resources for small membership churches.

The Rev. Clay Smith, Hinton Church Consultant:
"The Hinton Center from its very beginning has always been a resource for the whole church that focuses almost exclusively on smaller size congregations, and especially those that are in rural areas."

The Rev. Geraldine McClellan, former North Central Florida District Superintendent:
"I was introduced to Hinton Rural Life Center in 2000, the year that I became a District Superintendent-a district at that time that had 84 churches, the majority of them being small membership churches. Looking for ways to find resources to revitalize those congregations and on the Internet, and typed in 'retreat centers for small membership churches,' and the name Hinton came up."

The Rev. Clay Smith, Hinton Church Consultant:
"Through the recent decades, small membership churches have not done the job of reaching out to the communities that are around them now. They never sat down, at least once a year, and just asked the question, you know, 'Where is God calling us? What does our future look like?'
They just assume that everybody who wants to come to church is coming to church. And they don't go out knocking on doors."

The Rev. Rufus Stark, Retired Pastor and former Hinton Board Member:
"The problem is when they just see themselves as maintenance, as just existing to be sure the graveyard is looked after, and become very defensive about any thinking outside the box. Hinton has been able to engage churches in the visioning and being able to imagine what they could be if they wanted to be, using the assets that they have. We have ways of helping churches to do that kind of strategic thinking. It's that approach is used widely in business and in&ellipsis;all across the board. And Hinton has broken it down and built a program where you go into a local church on a weekend and help them do a visioning process."

(graphic) The Hinton Center relies on donor support. You can give through Advance # 731372 or visit the website


When guests stay at Hinton, the cost helps Hinton fund home repairs, neighborhood development, and programs to build healthy and effective communities of faith. For more information, visit or call 866-389-8336.

Posted: September 12, 2012