70 years after first visit, Epworth By The Sea still a sacred place
By Kara Witherow, Editor
That’s how Wallace Twiggs describes Epworth By The Sea.
A teenager in the late 1940s, Twiggs was one of the first youth to visit the future site of South Georgia’s conference and retreat center, which was purchased on Oct. 29, 1949.
One Saturday afternoon that fall, Twiggs, then a member of Brunswick First United Methodist Church, and several other youth went with their counselor to what is now Epworth.
Stomping through waist-high grass, they chased snakes and field mice out of the overgrown fields, watched the sun set over the Frederica River, and held a vespers service.
“I always claim that we were probably the first organized group to go over there,” Twiggs said. “I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I claim it!”
Epworth By The Sea opened its gates in 1950, but Twiggs didn’t return to Epworth for 20 years. By then, the property had expanded to include a dining room, hotels, and more.
“To see how much it had grown was a shock to me,” he said.
Almost exactly 70 years after his first visit, Twiggs returned to Epworth By The Sea. Again, he came with a group of youth, but this time he was the counselor.
He came to help chaperone a group of students from Columbus’ Wynnton United Methodist Church at this year’s Join the Journey Confirmation Retreat.
Involved in children and youth ministry through the years, Twiggs and his wife still help and serve when they can.
“We’ve tried to, over the years, give back a little bit of what’s been given to us,” he said.
Strolling through Epworth, he marveled at the changes and gave thanks to those who made it what it is today.
“I enjoy going to see Epworth as it has grown over the years. It was nothing but scrub grass and mice running around back then,” Twiggs said. “I’m amazed every time I go back. We need to keep it going, and we are so blessed here in South Georgia to have it.”
Back at home in Columbus, Twiggs remembers his time at Epworth By The Sea and Confirmation Retreat fondly, but laughs and says he’s still itching from gnat bites.
“It’s holy ground,” he said of Epworth. “Even with the sand gnats!”