Ridgecrest was such a gathering of youth. Thousands from all over the south, a southern-baptist-church youth, all knowing the format of assembly and breakouts and gatherings and worship and fellowship. In thee middle of summer, in the middle of the North Carolina mountains, thousands of youth.
It sits just west of the Swannanoa Tunnel, at the top of one of the most dangerous rail road grades anywhere, the Western North Carolina Railroad line running straight up from Old Fort, running right under the continental divide, opening out to sunlight and Ridgecrest, literally at the crest of the ridge.
All the anxieties and peer pressures and consumptive desires and pent up angst is there, but everyone knows how to pray and how to read the bible. Little is shown except devotion. It was a wonderful place because there were so many pretty girls who all had been pre-qualified...they were at Ridgecrest. There were no expressions of passion but there were associations and groups walked together and there was a preferred seating during the assemblies. That was a start. It meant something. And I was there too. We had that in common. It was something to think about as we studied the bible and how to live a righteous life in an unrighteous world.
It was at Ridgecrest that I first heard Gene Cotton. We all freaked out (but did not call it that) thinking he sounded exactly, exactly like James Taylor. Man, a christian guy with long hair and a guitar and sounds like James Taylor. He was cool. We were cool by the most distance association. He was so cool.
MVP at the 1960 World Series when the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees by one run, a ninth inning home run in game seven, was a Yankee, Bobby Richardson. He was also, after a decade with the Yankees, taking on evangelical work full time, using the notoriety to gather an audience so he might share his testimony and then the gospel. His story was largely one of maintaining conviction of conscience in arenas where devotion to ideals is often challenged...and he told lots of out of the dugout stories of baseball, of the Yankees.
Inscription: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
Long before Grady Nuttt was the Prime Minister of Humor on Hee Haw, he was doing stand-up at Ridgecrest, couple of shows during the week’s retreat, and then down times lounging around the Commons, chatting it up with youth, baptist youth. He was funny, making jokes about the differences between denominations in some small southern town, poking soft fun at the idiosyncrasies that makes us all charming...to ourselves and to each other. And there would always be a message, an “...all kiddin’ aside...” message, and truth would fall heavy over the humor room.
And then he got on Hee Haw in 1979. His fame rose outside the chapels and fellowship halls and there he was, over a dozen years after I knew him he was on Hee Haw and Reagan was in the White House.
Inscription: And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14