At the December 3, 2022, dedication of the latest special gift of major donors, Donald and Barbara Rathbun, now of Melbourne, FL, Luther Springs’ Executive Sarah Anderson described the two well: “They never quit loving on Luther Springs”. She’s right. Don and Barb lost their eldest son, Gregory L. Rathbun to a very brief battle with pancreatic cancer in February 2021. They wanted a special way to honor Greg’s memory, and they wanted to do it at Luther Springs. Thus, two of their “loves” are reflected in their most recent gift, the creation of the Gregory L. Rathbun Hospitality Center in Luther Springs’ Atonement Chapel and Meeting Room. The Hospitality Center will serve worship guests as a coffee and fellowship space. It serves retreat and conference participants as a refreshment area (that includes a wine cooler!).
A photo and plaque in the Center honor the memory of Gregory Rathbun. Born in Camp Polk, LA in 1952, Greg grew up on Florida’s east coast. His journey through adulthood took him to California, and eventually to the Rathbun family farm in Ohio where he raised his family and lived until his untimely death in 2021. Greg succeeded in having the Rathbun family farm (established in 1876) designated a historic “Century Family Farm” by the state of Ohio. Greg was interred in Clyde, Ohio.
Don and Barb Rathbun are among the earliest group of Luther Springs’ supporters. Speaking briefly at the dedication, Don recalled chopping through a virgin forest that is now Luther Springs on that first day at the site. He recalled the arrival of modules that would become Kinports Dining Hall – and the challenge he and son, Jeffrey had keeping racoons from invading the modules’ open end!
His memories prompted Sarah Anderson’s loving tribute. “When Don was cutting trees and making paths through what was then a virgin forest,” speaking to campers and quilters present, “can we imagine how he feels to see what this special place has become? It is because of people like these two, their love for this place, that we have the Luther Springs of today. They never quit loving on Luther Springs,” she said, “so please say a special prayer for these two!”
A very personal, loving tribute from Greg’s sister Laura celebrated Greg’s life to prepare for the Service of Blessing that followed.
Print a copy of this story Rathbun Hospitality Center!
The “NovusWay family” is blessed by a community of supporters for all four sites, some of whom helped clear the sites and launch the ministries today at Luther Springs, Lutheridge, Lutherock and Lutheranch. We are blessed by the ever-growing community of supporters who have come in recent years to build on the foundation those like Don and Barb Rathbun helped build. There’s a place for you and your support in this growing outdoor ministry community at any and all of our four sites. Visit novusway.org to learn more about God’s work in this ministry loved by so many and to offer your support as God gives you opportunity.