Billy Graham’s reach extended to all corners of the globe, but in a small slice of North Carolina, groups can soak in the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains landscape that often inspired him.
Billy and Ruth Graham lived most of their lives together in a small mountain town just outside Asheville, where they raised their five children. After much prayer and planning, the couple finally opened their dream center just a dozen miles from their mountain home. The Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove in Asheville was designed as a year-round center for believers to study the Word, commune with others, retreat from the demands of daily life and receive training and teaching from some of the best Bible teachers.
Today, the Cove encompasses 1,200 acres of rolling hills and landscaped property; it is looked after by the Grahams’ grandson, Will Graham, vice president and associate evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and executive director of the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove.
The five main buildings at the Cove include spaces for sleeping, gathering, playing and dining alongside fellow Christians, and each provides a great home base for journeying through the faith and furthering an authentic walk toward truth.
The Cove can host groups of as many as 500 participants. Two dedicated inns on the property provide respite for groups that are meeting or attending events on the grounds. The Shepherd’s Inn and the Pilgrim’s Inn feature a combined 126 guest rooms, and six suites are also available. Some of the guest rooms are equipped with a gas fireplace, two queen beds and an ample sitting area that makes sharing rooms an easy option. Five rustic cabins are set along a quiet wooded lane.
All the rooms at the Cove are furnished in a cozy rustic decor with real wood accents and warm fabrics that provide a sense of calm and relaxation. Private decks look out over the tree-lined landscape, making a lovely spot for a morning devotional or an inspirational sunset. The lobby areas inside the inns provide comfortable common spaces for guests to mingle, gather for impromptu Bible studies or prayer circles or sip a hot cup of coffee around the fireplace.
The Cove specializes in biblical training through special events: seminars, personal spiritual retreats, military marriage retreats, pastor renewal retreats and special “Evenings at the Cove” that feature popular Christian artists. Groups can also hold private ministry events, retreats or conferences. No matter which type of gathering, meeting attendees always get exceptional service that extends far beyond check-in and checkout. Aside from the two inns, which feature meeting space in their lobbies, groups can gather in the Chatlos Memorial Chapel for a service or meet in the training center, which includes two auditoriums. The main auditorium can seat 451 guests, and Auditorium 303 can seat up to 119 guests.
The 14 meeting and breakout spaces for guest group participants are equipped with the latest technology, plus an optional beverage and snack service. Every meeting at the Cove comes with a dedicated event planner and audiovisual expert to attend to all meeting guests’ needs and ensure that every detail is covered. Meals at the Cove are held in the dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows open the room to gorgeous mountain views. Menus are chef-driven, with buffet-style dining that features farm-fresh salads and delicious desserts.
There are three ways to visit the Cove: Guests can attend a Cove program, hold their own events or take a tour. The Cove regularly hosts events featuring the top Bible scholars for seminars and intensive Bible trainings, but it also hosts worship nights and spiritual retreats throughout the year. Meeting guests can take advantage of the several miles of hiking trails on the Cove’s 1,200 acres, including a roughly four-mile hike to the scenic overlook deck.
The Chatlos Memorial Chapel and Ruth’s Prayer Garden are popular daytime tours, and the deck on the backside of the training center always fills up with meeting attendees looking to soak in the scenery in the rocking chairs or around the fire pit. Visitors can shop the bottom floor of the training center at Ruth’s Attic Bookstore for decor items, books by Christian authors, Bibles, clothing, jewelry, coffee and more. They can also take a stroll through the bottom floor of the training center to explore the life and travels of Billy, Franklin and Will Graham through memorabilia and information about the ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The outside walls of the bottom floor are lined with pictorial displays and television screens that depict the ministry through the years.
The Cove is 15 minutes from the heart of Asheville. This charming Southern city boasts a vibrant arts scene, which is best explored in the River Arts District inside the former factory building that has been transformed into live artist studios. Groups can explore the dome-topped Basilica of St. Lawrence to see renowned architect Rafael Guastavino’s finest work before heading to the 19th-century Biltmore Estate to see his handiwork in the details of Richard Morris Hunt’s design. The Biltmore was once home to the Vanderbilt family, but today the home and expansive gardens and grounds are open so visitors can explore this National Historic Landmark.
Brunch is a major event in Asheville, and restaurantgoers line up for the chance at a seat inside Biscuit Head, Cúrate and Rhubarb. For the best views in the city, many travelers opt for the Montford at the top of the Hyatt Place Hotel for artisanal small plates and the best sunset-viewing spot in all of Asheville.
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Size: 1,200 acres of forested hills
Capacity: 500 overnight guests