Category Archives: Behind The Scenes

Saturday Snapshot — More SNOW!!

You may have seen last week’s snow post, but wait until you see how beautiful it was when we got MORE snow!  It was serene and absolutely beautiful.

Enjoy the photos and see if you recognize the man shoveling snow at the end of this post.

BGTC front gate sign with snow
Welcome to The Cove!
chandelier with snow in background
Bringing the outdoors in.
These rocking chairs look inviting no matter what season we’re in!
Early bird gets the…
Snowy white chapel.


View from above the overlook.
Wil Graham shoveling snow Jan 2016
Leader with a servant heart, Will Graham, lends a hand in making our sidewalks safe.


Why not make a snow angel at work! Angie, our Guest Services Coordinator, knows how to have a good time!

Come see us! Click here to visit our website.



Pastor Saeed Abedini Finds Rest at The Cove

Many of you have asked how Pastor Saeed Abedini is since his release from imprisonment in Iran.  It has been a pleasure to host him here at The Cove for a much needed time of rest and a chance to reconnect with family.

While here, Saeed told Franklin Graham that “he is not angry and he is not bitter about his imprisonment—but he is tremendously thankful for his freedom and to be back in the United States.”

Greata Van Susteren traveled to Asheville to interview Pastor Abedini in our beautiful chapel.

Pastor Abedini chapel interview jan 25 2016

Click here for more behind-the-scenes photos.

To view the video interview click here.

We appreciate your continued prayers for Pastor Abedini and his family in the coming weeks and months.


For a full schedule of seminars, retreats, and concerts at The Cove, click here.

Saturday Snapshot

It’s January and that means we mail out our annual Program Guide!  We’ve got lots of great seminars, programs, concerts, and retreats (both group and personal) in 2016 and we anticipate God to move mightily, like He always does, in the lives of those who come.

Our Program Guide is not only a great informational piece, but a beautiful work of art, thanks to our talented designer.  We thought you might like to take a peek behind-the-scenes of the printing of the Program Guide.

This huge contraption is called a web press, a type of printing press that prints on continuous rolls of paper.  Can you see the Program Guide sheets in there?

web press

Here is a short video of the web press in action.

Click here if you are unable to see the video.

Program Guides will be arriving in mailboxes in the couple of weeks, so be on the lookout for yours.  If you do not receive one by February 1, but would like to, you can request one by calling 1-800-950-2092.

Click here to visit out website.

Saturday Snapshot

If you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen pictures of the beautiful deer that grace our 1,200 acres.  We love the chance to snap a photo and share with you.

With lots of deer on property (no hunting allowed), our groundskeepers find antlers in the woods that have been shed throughout the year.

So,…what does one do with a bunch of antlers, you may ask?

You decorate a Christmas tree at The Cove!

This tree in our administration building was decorated by our amazingly talented Guest Services Coordinator, Angie.

Keep it in mind for your tree next year!


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carribou antler
This is a caribou antler that one of our staff’s son sent him from Alaska. All other antlers on the tree are from The Cove property.

We hope to see you next year at The Cove! God bless you!

Saturday Snapshot from The Cove staff

Our staff broke bread and enjoyed fellowship earlier this week at our annual employee luncheon.

The common sentiment felt by the staff was how blessed we are to work at a place where we get to see God so clearly work in the lives of our guests and visitors.

Whether you’ve spent time with us at our retreat center in Asheville, NC, or connect with us here online, you’ve made a difference in our lives, and for that, we are thankful.

From our Cove family to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas!

2015 Staff Christmas photo December 16 small for blog

Saturday Snapshot

We kicked off Christmas at The Cove this week and Veritas did not disappoint!

The Cove was decorated to the hilt, the food was wonderful, and the music of Veritas was a true celebration of our dear Savior’s birth!

If you’d like to join us for one of our Christmas at The Cove events, click here.

Veritas at Christmas at The Cove 2

Veritas at Christmas at The Cove

Veritas at Christmas at The Cove at book signing
CD signing and meet & greet after the concert. What a fun group!

Saturday Snapshot

The Cove turkeys have a good life.  There is no hunting allowed on our property and we offer plenty of opportunities for spiritual enrichment.  We caught this feathered friend meditating on Ephesians 3:20.

Turkey meditating on Ephesians 3 20

If you’ve found yourself with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, we’re bringing back an oldie but goodie recipe from The Cove kitchen.  Hope you enjoy!

Black Bean and Turkey Chili

Serves: 4-6

1 lb black beans
2 diced yellow onions
2 diced red bell Pepper
1 diced green bell pepper
2 – 3 lbs shredded turkey (you can use as more or less depending on the amount you have leftover)
32 fl oz. beef stock
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 lb fresh diced tomatoes
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. In stock pot, sauté onions until caramelized
2. Add and sauté peppers and garlic
3. Add beans, beef stock, diced tomatoes, and turkey and stir.
4. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, bay leaves and simmer for 1 hour.
5. Add additional seasoning to preferred taste
6. Enjoy a nice bowl of turkey chili on a nice cool fall day!

Saturday Snapshot

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We just finished up with our last seminar of 2015, so we’re now in full swing in getting our Christmas decorations up for the events that will take place here during the month of December.

Here’s a sneak peak:

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The Reason for the Season. Jesus!

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Handmade origami creations.
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Ruth’s Attic Bookstore always has lots of lovely Christmas items.

A special traveling exhibit will be on display at The Cove during the month of December:  Calligraphic Word Pictures Inspired by the Music and Text of George Frederick Handel’s Messiah by Timothy R. Botts, a favorite artist of the late Ruth Bell Graham.  We’ll make sure to share pictures of that in the coming weeks.

We still have tickets available for the following events.

Christmas at The Cove with Veritas
December 5, 2015 

Women’s Christmas Luncheon with Casey Schutrop
(Open to women ages 15 and above.)
December 6, 2015

Christmas at The Cove with Tommy Coomes Band
December 7, 2015

Christmas at The Cove with Travis Cottrell
December 10, 2015

Christmas at The Cove with Marty Goetz & Misha
December 18, 2015

Christmas at The Cove with Huntley Brown with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah.  Huntley will be joined by the Mount Paran Singers from Mount Paran Church of God, Atlanta, GA, singing under the direction of Teresa Bledsoe.
December 19, 2015

We hope to see you in December!

Saturday Snapshot

For our Saturday Snapshot today, we’re sharing a story about the couple featured in the snapshot below.

Couples from Roseburg Oregon at National Law Enforcement Retreat Oct 2016 sm for blog
Roseburg Police Detective Todd Spingath and his wife Cindy (left) with Douglas County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Kinney and his wife Candi. These four as well as one more couple from Roseburg, Oregon, received scholarships to attend the National Law Enforcement Retreat at The Cove on Nov. 4-6, 2015.

Story by Kristy Etheridge, BGEA Writer

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9, ESV

“What a weird way to start a training exercise.”

That’s the first thought that crossed Craig Kinney’s mind when a call about an active shooter at Umpqua Community College came across his scanner.

“And then the [radio] traffic kind of went on a little bit, and we realized this is real.”

Craig serves as chief deputy medical examiner for Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in Roseburg, Oregon. Seconds after the call came in, the office emptied out as everyone ran to their vehicles.

“Everybody’s trying to get there as fast as you can,” Craig said, “because you know every second is so important.”

The sheriff’s office is only seven-and-a-half miles from the college, but two Roseburg police detectives were even closer.

Detective Todd Spingath and his boss, Detective Sgt. Joe Kaney, were stopping to grab a cup of coffee when they heard the call and raced toward the college. It was 10:38 a.m. on Oct. 1.

“The closer we were getting, I keep looking at the side mirrors on our truck, and I don’t see lights behind us,” Todd recalled. “I said, ‘I think we’re going to be the first ones there.’”

A Much-Needed Break

Just over a month after the shooting left 10 people dead, both Craig and Todd found themselves more than 2,500 miles from Roseburg.

One by one, they quietly shared their stories during the National Law Enforcement Retreat at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina.

It was the first time Todd talked publicly about what happened, despite relentless requests from local and national media.

On Thursday, with his wife, Cindy, by his side, he opened up about the events of Oct. 1 and the difficult weeks that followed.

Roseburg Police Detective Todd Spingath and his wife Cindy (left) with Douglas County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Craig Kinney and his wife Candi. These four as well as one more couple from Roseburg, Oregon, received scholarships to attend the National Law Enforcement Retreat at The Cove on Nov. 4-6, 2015.

That’s part of what the National Law Enforcement Retreat is about—providing a peaceful place for officers and their spouses to relax, unload their burdens and discuss the unique challenges law enforcement families face every day.

Hosted by the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team—a network of crisis-trained chaplains that deploys in the wake of disaster—the retreat is an annual event that began in 2014.

This year, the Rapid Response Team offered scholarships to three officers and spouses from Roseburg, Oregon. That’s how Todd and Cindy ended up at the retreat, along with Craig and Candi Kinney and one other couple.

“We found out they were opening up scholarship positions for three guys to come out here, and then the local churches came together and said, ‘We want to cover your airfare and your hotel fees,’” Craig said.

“The whole thing has just been blessing on top of blessing. We’ve just felt like honored guests.”

On Wednesday, they joined more than 200 other officers and spouses from across the U.S. and Canada. They all gathered at the mountain retreat center to take a break from life’s stresses, worship God, hike the mountain trails, and learn how to strengthen their families and communities.

For Craig and Candi, the timing couldn’t have been better.

“I was looking forward to getting away,” Candi said. “Because it has been really tough.”

Gunshots on Campus

On Oct. 1, as Craig sped toward Umpqua Community College, he made a quick call to Candi, asking her to pray.

“I remember the drive there, but more than that I remember praying the whole way there,” Craig said. “I was just praying and praying and praying.”

Meanwhile, Todd and his boss, Joe, were pulling into the college.

“Before the car even stopped, we heard the gunshots,” Todd said.

They abandoned their plan to suit up with bulletproof vests as they ran toward the sound of gunfire.

“It was a tactical nightmare, basically,” Todd said. “We couldn’t see a whole lot. We started getting shot at. We actually got hit by debris, so we kind of split. I went to the right, and he went to the left.”

He still couldn’t see the shooter, and learned later that he was likely shooting through a window.

“It just seemed like wherever I moved he totally had me,” Todd said.

“His actions and that of his partner that day saved lives, saved a lot of lives.” —Craig Kinney

He could hear Joe fire back at the shooter before getting a glimpse of a muzzle flash and firing back himself.

“And we see a girl come out, and she was holding her head and she had blood all over her, so I waved her over to me,” Todd said. “She ran over to me, and I asked, ‘Where’s he at? Where’s he at?’”

Moments later, both detectives were running into the classroom.

“Joe and I got there about the same time and could see the carnage of everything, see a bunch of spent casings on the ground, and the person who ultimately was the suspect looked like he had shot himself,” Todd said.

“We could see that people were dead, and we basically just started triaging people at that point.”

Days after the shooting, when word got out about the actions of the two detectives, people were quick to shower Todd with praise—something he continues to reject.

“That guy hates to be called a hero,” Craig said. “His actions and that of his partner that day saved lives, saved a lot of lives. He’s a detective; didn’t have a duty belt, didn’t have a bulletproof vest. They put themselves in harm’s way.”

When asked how much time passed between the initial call and the shooter’s death, Todd answers, “Two-and-a-half years.”

It was four minutes.

Death … and Hope

When the gunfire ceased, Craig’s work began. Tasked with identifying the victims, he was in the midst of the carnage for hours.

“I’ve dealt with horrific deaths,” he said. “I’ve seen death at its ugliest and its saddest, but seeing it on this scale was …”

He couldn’t quite finish the sentence.

After working until 2:30 in the morning, Craig was back at the scene just a few hours later for another long day. That’s when he remembers seeing the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team’s Mobile Ministry Center in the parking lot.

“I was amazed at how fast they were there,” he said. “We were like, ‘Where did this come from?’

“It was right by the front gates with a crowd of people around, and I thought, that is so cool to have it there so fast, and it was obvious that people were using it. And I’ve heard stories of people who received Christ.”

The truck had been in California, near the wildfires that broke out in September. Members of the Rapid Response Team drove through the night to get it to Roseburg the morning after the shooting.

In the days that followed, a team of crisis-trained chaplains was on site to offer hope in the midst of darkness and to minister to the community, including first responders.

During the two-week deployment, nine chaplains prayed with 340 people and had conversations with many more.

Some of the same chaplains were present at the National Law Enforcement Retreat, offering prayer and a listening ear to attendees.

They’re Not Alone

Three days after the Roseburg shooting, Craig paused to process what had happened.

“I went back to Snyder Hall, and I just stood there on the sidewalk looking at it,” he said. “That’s the first time I remember really crying, and I remember praying again there.”

He says his faith in Christ shapes his view of life and death. Knowing Jesus—and the reality of eternal life for those who follow Him—has allowed Craig to cope with the death he sees so often on the job.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Both he and Todd said it helped them to meet so many like-minded officers at the retreat—men and women who can relate to one another in a way outsiders can’t.

“Honestly, I wouldn’t have come had it not been a law enforcement-based deal,” Todd said. “I’m not a social butterfly. But when you’re around a bunch of your brother and sister officers, it’s a lot easier.”

It’s also confirmation that, whatever these officers may be going through, they are not alone.

“To look across the room and see a-hundred-and-some officers,” Craig said, “big, tough, strong cops, standing with hands in the air, worshiping Jesus—it was powerful.”

Have hope even in the midst of tragedy. Invite Jesus into your life.

Read about others who attended the Law Enforcement Retreat, including one police officer and his wife impacted by the chaos in Baltimore earlier this year.