As the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center’s centennial approaches, the richness and integrity of its history becomes apparent. Over the years, several renowned leaders have experienced the warmth and beauty of Lake Junaluska, including Jimmy Carter, John Glenn, and Richard Nixon.
In 2007, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center celebrated the opening of one of its newest facilities, the Bethea Welcome Center. It is located at the main gate at the North Lakeshore entrance. Visitors to the Bethea Welcome Center are able to view different cultures represented through art. In addition, the Bethea Welcome Center serves as a multipurpose building that welcomes and provides information for visitors to the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. It also serves as the center for lodging and event registration.
The Bethea Welcome Center was named for beloved Christian leaders Bishop Joseph and Mrs. Shirley Bethea. Throughout the Bethea Welcome Center, artistic creations from several regions across the globe are featured.
One beautiful creation featured in the Bethea Welcome Center is the “Song of Justice.” Upon entering the Welcome Center, eyes are immediately drawn to an arrangement of twenty-three organ pipes that hang above the information desk. Each pipe is covered by authentic ethnic fabrics from African-American, Native American, and European settlers. The fabric-covered pipes represent the four ethnic groups most prevalent in Western North Carolina. Other global influences, such as East Asian and Middle Eastern cultures’ colors and patterns, are prominent on some of the pipe’s fabrics.
Although the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center has become a central gathering place for Methodists, it remains a welcoming center of hope and inspiration to people of all faiths and denominations. In addition, the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center is the administrative headquarters of the Southeastern Jurisdiction.