Latino culture has many facets but none is more important than “Familismo”, a multigenerational bond that promotes loyalty and closeness among extended family members. For this reason, milestone events like birthdays, anniversaries, and christenings are usually large-scale affairs that include participation by immediate kin as well as aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Finding the perfect venue for such an event can be challenging but South Georgia Latinos have the option of choosing a place that includes the word “family” in its name!
For the past 40 years, the New Ebenezer Family Retreat and Conference Center, has welcomed visitors to its peaceful and secluded facilities on the banks of the Savannah River near Rincon, Ga.
Steeped in history, New Ebenezer traces its roots back to 1734 when a group of German-speaking immigrants sailed across the Atlantic and established their community in what is now Effingham County. Their original house of worship still stands on adjacent property and is recognized today as the oldest Lutheran church in the United States with a continuously active congregation. The church property also includes a living history museum, a historic cemetery, and an amphitheater overlooking the Savannah River.
Located just 25 minutes from downtown Savannah, visitors from around the world delight in New Ebenezer’s relaxing ambience and first-rate amenities.
The Retreat Center offers a variety of meeting spaces for all groups, large and small. Facilities include two large banquet halls and a number of conference and classroom spaces.
Overnight guests can choose between private cottages and dormitory-style cottages with bunk beds.
Each of the 2-story private cottages has a living room, a kitchen, and six private bedrooms – each with two twin beds and its own private bath. Pillows, blankets and linens are provided. Small groups may choose to prepare their own meals or eat meals prepared by retreat staff and served in the main dining halls.
Dorm cottages are complete with a front porch, a kitchen, a great room with dining and living areas, and two bedrooms – each that sleep 8 in bunk beds.
Outdoor activity areas include a swimming pool; tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts; soccer fields; a covered grilling area; a campfire area; and a beautiful lake surrounded by hiking trails. The facilities are open to day visitors as well as overnight guests. Alcoholic beverages and pets are not allowed.
New Ebenezer’s Director, Connie Bazemore, traces her family roots back to the original Salzburger settlers and has worked at the retreat center for the past 20 years. She said family has always been a primary focus at New Ebenezer.
“Our mission statement includes a pledge to strengthen the family and empower them to experience renewal with each other and with God,” Bazemore said. “In the early days, our work focused on church-related groups and activities. Then we started offering educational activities for students and for people interested in the rich history of our area. We are always looking for new ways to share our retreat with the outside world.”
With the addition of bilingual staffer, Valerie Anderson, New Ebenezer has made a special effort to welcome Spanish-speaking guests.
“We are the perfect venue for family reunions, communion celebrations, weddings, birthdays, and Quinceañeras,” Anderson said. “Our staff is very flexible and for large groups, we can provide all your food and banquet needs. Groups smaller than 30 guests are welcome to bring their own food.”
Bazemore said the kitchen staff at New Ebenezer will tailor its menus to fit guest preferences.
“Our guests can sign up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” she said. “Our menu choices are typical southern cuisine but we are always happy to expand those choices to include ethnic favorites.”
Bazemore is also looking forward to the completion of a new wedding pavilion late this summer. “Our wedding pavilion is situated next to the lake area and will feature a beautiful gazebo,” she said. “We look forward to sharing our beautiful facility with our Hispanic friends and neighbors.”