This was a new retreat center for me. I have been blessed over the past couple of years through being on the board of the Fellowship of United Methodist Spiritual Directors and Retreat Leaders (FUMSDRL) to go to retreat centers each summer for board meetings and/or conferences (depending on the year). I like to share my experiences in case others are looking for spaces for time apart and/or retreats.
St. Francis Springs Prayer Center in Stoneville, NC was a new place for me. It was in a rural location, which made it perfect for a silent retreat in that the only external noises heard were those of owls, woodpeckers, and an occasional plane flying overhead at a very high elevation. There was also some construction being done on site while we were there, but that wasn't disturbing to me. I enjoyed hearing the sound of progress as stones were added to pillars and I enjoyed hearing the occasional Spanish spoken as I walked by.
When we arrived at the center, they were still decorated for the Christmas season, which was delightful. There were several Christmas trees around the main building, a huge nativity scene, and a smaller one. The decorations began to disappear on Monday.
Because the center is named for St. Francis, there are multiple St. Francis statues on the property. I don't know how many total, but I found several. One of them I didn't find until the last day.
There are many spaces on the property for reflection, for quiet, for walking, for rest. There are trails on the property, a labyrinth, a chapel in the woods, a chapel in the main building, an outdoor patio at the main building, a gazebo as you begin the trail, a peace garden, stations of the cross, a creek along portions of the walking trail, a waterfall constructed out of big rocks.
There is a meditation room in the main building as well as the chapel, along with a well-stocked library and other rooms for gathering.
The retreat center is beautiful, from the architecture to the layout to the outdoors. They have done a wonderful job in creating a space for folks to take time apart.
If you've not heard of St. Francis Springs Prayer Center, I encourage you to check it out. It was about a 7 hour drive for me from Chattanooga and worth it.
Here are some of the pictures I took of the buildings and the grounds. There are rooms in the main building as well as hermitages and cottages for lodging.
|entry way from main road|
|entrance to main building|
|Christmas decorations in large room|
|chapel in the woods|
|Chapel in main building|
|Christmas decorations in hallway|
|reflection space on upper trail|
|Tau symbol (view from main building)|
Blessings on your journey,