WINNSBORO — Over 100 community members and elected officials showed up to the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Mission Ridge Golf and Leadership Center — formerly know as the Fairfield Inn Country Club — on Friday.
After just over 18 months of renovation, the facility will be used to teach leadership and volunteerism to people of all ages.
Gov. Nikki Haley, who was expected to speak, was unable to attend due to unforeseen obligations but sent a message for the Christ Central leadership team and board of directors through a spokesperson.
“Your vision and leadership continue to make an impact in rural South Carolina and this does not go unnoticed,” Haley wrote. “You and your leadership team truly set the example for neighbors helping neighbors. Thank you for your leadership, vision and your true love of South Carolina.”
The country club was built in the 1860s and after recent financial troubles, Christ Central was asked by Fairfield County, the state, Mt. Zion Society and the country club to assist in keeping the building as a premier showcase for the county.
Fairfield County Councilman David Brown expressed his gratitude to Christ Central and every person involved in the renovation.
“We want to thank everyone that supports Christ Central and everybody who is interested in Fairfield County and does what is good for the county,” he stated.
The facility will be used for community activities by offering golf, conferences, weddings, graduation luncheons and other events.
A catering service will be available via the facility’s kitchen.
The leadership training center will focus on tools to serve communities effectively and serve as a retreat for mission station directors.
“It was our dream to have a place to train volunteers and a place for each of of our mission directors to bring their team to a place to get away from the busy work among the poverty and to be prepared for the ideas exchanged,” Christ Central CEO Jimmy Jones said.
In addition to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Christ Central also celebrated its 17th anniversary on Saturday at Mission Ridge.
Christ Central started on May 18, 1997, on a street corner in Columbia serving nearly 300 homeless people with breakfast and service.
The ministry was unable to get a building until Sept. of 1997 when they secured their first location at 2401 Main Street in Columbia.
Christ Central now has 90 facilities including the college Christ Central Institution in Wagener.
After the mission of feeding the homeless, Jones noted the next goal was to house them and prepare them to find jobs or earn education components.
“It created quite a process to find out the things that were helpful and needful for the life changes,” Jones noted. “We’re constantly looking for how we can make better the community by helping to figure out what would it take to get a business to move here. What would it take to improve the opportunity for people to come to a small town and do business.”
Jimmy Burroughs Director of Christ Central in Winnsboro recounted the journey of renovating the building as well as the rebuilding process.
“Many times we would make a trip down to Lowe’s or Chips and about time it got time to put the material up it was either misplaced, lost or we had to put it up and tear it back down, so we know what restore means too. It means going back and forth to the store two or three times,” he said with a smile.
A lifelong resident of Fairfield County, Burroughs spent the majority of his time during the 18-month period as the key contact for the restoration of Mission Ridge and he is excited to see the project come to a close.
“This is a great facility for Fairfield County and now its a public facility for the entire county to use,” he said.
Mission Director Barbra Franklin specifically thanked the volunteers who contributed the countless hours to the renovation of the building.
“They (volunteers) have been so generous with the giving of their time and their resources with absolutely no pay,” she noted. “And if they were paid there wouldn’t be enough money to actually give to them.”
The major use of the facility will be for training for Christ Central’s leadership team as well as leaders of the local community and around the state.
These groups include the government, churches, commerce, education and other civic minded groups.
Also social events included will be weddings, birthday parties, graduations and other celebratory events.
“We’re grateful to celebrate this day with this community of Winnsboro to impact our generation and the ones to follow,” Franklin said.
The facility will also be available as a retreat center for various groups.
Jones believes Mission Ridge is not only in the perfect location, but will be deemed invaluable to the community.
“There is so much history (in the county seat of Winnsboro) and There are so many reasons for people to drive off of the interstate and to take the time to experience southern hospitality in grand little town of Winnsboro,” he emphasized. “It is an awesome opportunity today that if we use wisely what The Lord has trusted us with. Other towns, because of the leadership in this town, will see what its like to restore the landmarks and those things that are important and contain many memories.”