Rev. David Aker, Mountain Missions Director, officiated at a dedication service of the Wendell Belew Training Center in Stanton October 18. The interdenominational center, situated on 50 acres of peaceful wooded countryside, is nestled in the rolling hills of southern Powell County.
Formerly a bed and breakfast, the Center, which includes six bedrooms, six and a half baths, a commercial- size kitchen, dining room and large meeting room, can accommodate groups of 25 for overnight or extended stays.
The property is owned by the Mountain Missions Development, a non-profit corporation “focusing on the Appalachian community by helping individuals achieve an abundant life in Christ.” Dr. Morris Norfleet, former Morehead University President serves as President of MMDC.
The mission of the Wendell Belew Center is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through serving as a vocational training center for those unemployed and underemployed. The Belew Center also serves as a retreat and seminar center for church groups and individuals.
The Training Center was named in honor of Dr. Wendell Belew. Dr. Belew graduated from Georgetown College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Georgetown College. He served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon for six years. During his ministry in Mt. Vernon, the church started seven mission churches in Rockcastle County.
Dr. Belew also served as Mountain Missions Director for four years before he became Director of Division of Missions of the Home Mission Board in 1971. In this role, he was responsible for Volunteerism, Christian Social Ministries, Chaplaincy and Disaster Relief.
“In my opinion, Wendell Belew was the greatest statesman Southern Baptists had for Home Missions in the last half of the 20th Century,” said Dr. Larry Martin, Missions Growth Team Leader for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
In addition, Dr. Belew was responsible for the Good News for Modern Man translation of the Bible. Robert Bratcher completed the actual translation at his request. The millionth copy of the Bible, presented to Dr. Belew by the American Bible Society, was placed at the Belew Center by his family.
Dr. Belew was also a gifted artist, musician, poet and writer, which is reflected by a number of his books, paintings, video tapes and other memorabilia on display at the Belew Center. A video tape donated to the Center shows Dr. Belew playing the dulcimer and presenting several mini-sermons. He also painted many church baptisteries.
Dr. Belew’s deep devotion to God and his great love for the Appalachian people is evident in many of his writings and in this excerpt from a Christmas poem from his book, “Tomorrow’s Land:”