New Ebenezer Retreat Center History


The township of New Ebenezer, founded in 1736, has a heritage as rich as America. Settled by Lutheran Salzburgers seeking a place of religious freedom and a chance for a new beginning, it grew to about 2,000 residents. Each family was given a town lot for their home, a two-acre garden plot on the town's edge and a 50-acre farm further out.

Historic Jerusalem Lutheran Church was completed in 1769, and still has worship services today as the oldest Lutheran church in America with a continuously active congregation.

The British captured the town in 1779. Most of the homes were destroyed and many Salzburgers fled to their farms. The church was used as a hospital by the British, then as a storehouse for their supplies, and finally as a stable for their horses. Patriots, under the command of General Anthony Wayne, drove the British out in 1782.

Ebenezer became the first capital of Georgia. John A. Treutlen, a member of the Jerusalem congregation, was the first governor.

Historical Time Line of New Ebenezer Retreat Center

1972 - Richard Kessler's Vision of New Ebenezer Retreat Center while in Salzburg, Austria

November 23, 1973 - Presentation of Vision for Retreat Center to Jerusalem Lutheran Church Council

January 5, 1974 - Jerusalem Annual Congregation Meeting held. Voted to Move Forward.

March 12, 1977 - Ground Breaking Ceremonies

June 1977 - Opened for Business

November 26, 1977 - Dedication of 2 Cottages - Jerusalem & Trustees, Swimming Pool, Tennis courts, Basketball Court and other Facilities

March 10, 1979 - Dedication of the Day Pavilion

March 15, 1980 - Gnann Kessler and Helmly Cottage Dedication

August 1980 - Bell Tower Completed

Feb. 1981 - Laundry and Pool Office Completed

March 12-Dec. 22, 1983 - Family Life Center Constructed

May 19, 1984 - Family Life Center Dedication

April 1984 - Stockade Completed

September 21, 1985 - Shealy and Derrick Cottages Completed

February 1986 - Directors Cottage

June 17, 1987 - Lake Completed & Ball Field Cleared

March 1987 - Dedication of Shealy and Derrick Cottages & Directors Cottage

September 1988 - Von Reck & Callie Kessler Cottages and Boltzius Lake Pavilion Completed

January 1999 - Trust House Completed

January 2000 - Ebenezer ALIVE! Education Program Began

October 2002 - Outdoor Classroom, Archaeology Lab and Indian Council House

April 17, 2006 - Dedication of Mildred D. Kessler Learning Center