Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries has operated under one mission statement since its beginning: to reveal the presence of God to those who live, work, and play in the resort settings of Sevier County and the Smoky Mountains. This mission statement has never been made more real to me than in my time with Ober Gatlinburg during this winter season.
Each Sunday afternoon begins with a worship service at the top of a ski lift. These services are open to anyone who is interested—visitors, employees, ski patrol are all welcome to join on any given Sunday. This last Sunday’s service was filled with people who have been attending these services for many years. Two were members of ski patrol who are frequent visitors to Sunday worship. Two local families also attended, both of which were very familiar with the services we’ve had for so many years. We praised God together for the pause from a morning of fun and movement. The love of God is alive through SMRM for the people of Sevier County.
Ski ministry involves countless hours spent working alongside the employees of Ober while not actually being in place as an employee. Even from an outsiders’ perspective, it is a joy to see the family bonds that the employees share with one another and a joy to be welcomed in as a trusted friend. Aside from the usual banter, there are also many opportunities for quiet and personal conversations. We are trusted as friends, as wisdom givers, and as pastors. The love of God is alive through SMRM for the employees of Ober Gatlinburg.
And of course, among the joy of services and conversations throughout the day, there is always time to take advantage of the season and play on the snow. Sunday is a day off for many of the international employees, so it is not uncommon to see many of them taking the time to enjoy skiing or snowboarding on a beautiful sunny morning. There is no better opportunity to better know a friend than by being stuck together on a chairlift! It’s these times that allow us to understand each other better—to have intentional and meaningful conversations. The love of God becomes tangible in these moments to the students through SMRM.
Each day working at Ober Gatlinburg solidifies the mission of SMRM as God brings this mission to life in every person we encounter. Thanks be to God.