Dr. Willis D. Weatherford Sr. founded Blue Ridge Assembly by combining his strong faith with two of his passions – the development of young minds and the inspiring beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Weatherford, Director of the Student YMCA of the South, had been called to this work by Dr. John R. Mott, Nobel Peace Prize winner and world leader. This work consisted of challenging college students through conferences provided by the YMCA. During these conferences, Dr. Weatherford saw the need to engage young people with important issues, to provide direction and leadership skills, and to encourage authentic spirituality.
In 1906, he set out looking for a place of beauty and inspiration that would support the goals of the college conferences. He began his search in his already beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. He knew the inspirational beauty and natural surroundings would be foundational to the Blue Ridge experience. Arriving by horse and buggy with a friend, Dr. Weatherford parked his horse down near the current location of the entrance to Blue Ridge Assembly. After hiking up the mountainside, Dr. Weatherford climbed a tree to assess the view. Upon seeing the beauty of the valley and mountain peaks beyond, he exclaimed to his friend waiting below, “Eureka, we have found it!”
Weatherford purchased several hundred acres of land and began an ambitious campaign to raise additional funding to build the Assembly. Months later, a team of officers was appointed to lead the “Blue Ridge Association”, as it was originally named. This proclamation proved to be just the beginning of a century of building and growth that has led YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly to be what it is today.
Today, YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly is an active and inviting partner to any group; here on our sprawling 1200 acres campus near the city of Asheville, leaders bring their groups and watch them grow. We are a peaceful oasis where groups, families, and individuals can come to strengthen their gifts and talents. Like our founder Dr. Weatherford, our goal is to create relationships and inspire all those who set foot on our campus.