An Ode to Eagle Eyrie
Fond memories of a special place, by Rusty Mullins
Lynchburg, Virginia, is known as the City of Seven Hills. On one of those hills, just outside the city of Lynchburg, sits a shining jewel that is one of my favorite places on our planet – Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center.
I was not raised as a Virginia Baptist, so the first time I set foot on this beautiful campus was the fall of 1987, as a college freshman. From that day forward, a part of my heart has remained at this majestic place. Eagle Eyrie has existed as a conference center since 1956 and is owned and operated by the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
My wife, Jennifer, worked at Eagle Eyrie for two summers while in high school. She worked primarily in the ice cream shop. While meeting with our group during the Kairos Fall Gathering recently, she said, “It feels like the Holy Spirit has been baked into this mountain.” I couldn’t agree more.
Jennifer says that many of her biggest spiritual decisions were made in Dogwood Hall, where most of the worship services are held. She felt called to full-time ministry in Dogwood and embraced God’s call to do a summer mission internship while sitting on the back porch of English Dining Hall.
In the spring of my senior year, I attended a special track for those graduating out of our state Baptist Student Unions. It was during that weekend, surrounded by fellow seniors, that I accepted God’s call to attend seminary. My campus minister, the wonderful Jim Collie, had been in my ear for a long time, encouraging me to dive in fully if I was indeed called. That was the weekend I said, “Here am I – send me.”
There are retreat facilities all over the state. I have been to many of them. I have also spent time in such places all over the southeast. There is something extra special about Eagle Eyrie.
My 21-year-old daughter, Bethany, has gone to the Kairos Initiative Fall Conference for most of her life. She attended as a child and teen when her mom was the campus minister at Radford University. She has attended as part of a church group for the last few years, also led by her mother. She wrote a long post on social media after this year’s event. As part of that post, she wrote: “Eagle Eyrie, during Kairos Fall Gathering, has been the staple in my life that continues to point me back to God.”
I always look forward to driving through the gates at the bottom of the hill. I know that once I enter, I will feel at home and a little closer to heaven.
Rusty Mullins is currently the interim pastor at Hopewell Baptist Church, a BGAV-participating church in New Kent, VA.