Bethel Presbyterian Church (USA) - ministries within Bethel: John Knox Center


John Knox Center

In addition to supporting the John Knox Center through the Presbytery of East Tennessee, Bethel has sent youth campers, counselors and volunteer staff to the center for many years.  Bethel has held picnics, training sessions and Worship services at the center also.

[this description posted courtesy of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce]


Tucked away in the southern part of Roane County is a small bit of heaven that plays host to an estimated 8000 people each year. These people travel down River Road to reach the shores of Watts Bar Lake through the gates of the John Knox Center. While the Center has been around for over 40 years. It still remains the best-kept secret in the county.


Formally known as Camp John Knox, the John Knox Center is owned and operated by 80 Presbyterian Churches in the East Tennessee area (Presbyterian Church, USA). It is a 140-acre facility capable of sleeping and feeding just over 140 people and is not your typical summer church camp. The Center offers a broad range of programming to people of all ages. While the major emphasis is to the churches it serves, the Center also reaches out to the community at large through its environmental education program, The River Ridge Environmental Education Program, team building opportunities for church, community and corporate groups, and as a rental facility for a variety of groups.

River Ridge Environmental Education Program

The River Ridge Environmental Education Program has been in operation for 8 years. School children from 5 states have come to participate In this enriching educational experience. The program runs from September to late November and again in the spring from late February until the end of May. The vast majority of the children are in the 5th grade and spend from 1 to 5 days learning about the wonders of nature.

Team-building Program

The team-building program at John Knox is centered around a low and high challenge course. Through expert leadership, groups are lead through a variety of exercIses. These exercises help individuals in the group enhance their communication skills, build trust levels, improve their ability to work together and boost self-confidence. While most of the participants have been from local churches, the Center has hosted numerous scout groups and a few corporate groups, among them, HGTV in Knoxville.


The Center is often used as a rental facility by churches and a variety of not-for-profit groups. The John Knox Center is a not-for-profit corporation and being such is only allowed to do a small percentage business annually with for-profit corporations. Sleeping facilities range from the rustic to the comfortable. The vast majority of the facility is winterized and over 60 beds sport air-conditioning. The food service is second to none and guests return home feeling pampered.

Summer Camp

The summer program offers a variety of programs for ages 5-18. There are residence camps where children form small family groups. These groups explore the wonders of God’s creation through nature studies, outdoor activities, worship and bible study. For the more adventurous there are backpacking trips and white water canoe expeditions. There is even a day camp for the very young.


There are a number of spiritually based retreats throughout the year for men, women and young adults. While they are offered mainly to the churches the Center serves, they are not limited to solely Presbyterians. All are invited to come and share in God’s amazing grace at this amazing place. The John Knox Center is proud to be a part of Roane County and encourages people to come and visit the site and see the services offered.

Keep up with the many activities at the John Knox Center through their web site: