Stories & Commentaries

A Bold Vision for an Adventist Academy

The Georgia-Cumberland Academy story can be the story for other Adventist academies in the North American Division.

GCA gym before and after

Georgia-Cumberland Academy original gymnasium (left) before construction; the new Wally Fox Wellness Center (right)

In the midst of a pandemic, by God’s grace, Georgia-Cumberland Academy (GCA) began the 2020-2021 school year with an opening enrollment of 261, an increase of 11 students over the past year. And with prayer and bold vision, and acts of generosity, the school is in the process of upgrading its campus facilities to continue its service to Adventist families.

Bold vision is nothing new to the people of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. In the early 1960s, through generosity, unity, and strong faith, a bold vision for a boarding academy went from an architectural concept to a completed campus. In 1965, Georgia-Cumberland Academy (GCA) opened its doors to 166 young people.  Since then, GCA has been nurturing students’ faith in God, their connections to the Adventist Church, and preparing them for careers of service and leadership.

In the 50 years since the school’s opening, there were some additions and renovations, but the school remained much the same as is was in 1965. “We knew it was time to provide facilities that would meet the needs of our students and staff and take Georgia-Cumberland Academy into the future,” noted Greg Gerard, principal. But the financial obstacles seemed insurmountable.

An unexpected, unrestricted gift of $50,000 was made to GCA in late 2012, giving the academy the courage to hire an architect to put the vision onto paper. With a tangible plan to now show potential donors, the school launched a major fundraising initiative in 2015 named Continuing the Mission. The ending date was December 2020 and a goal of $12.5 million for facilities, student support, and program enhancements was set. “It was an audacious goal that felt very much out of reach,” said Gerard. “But God had wonderful surprises in store!”

That one act of generosity in the form of a $50,000 gift inspired confidence in others. The bold vision put before friends and alumni inspired unprecedented giving. God moved on hearts and now Georgia-Cumberland Academy has undergone a transformation that will meet the needs of young people for many years to come.

At the close of the Continuing the Mission initiative, GCA stood in awe of God’s faithfulness and the generosity of His people! As of December 31, 2020, pledges and gifts totaled $21,648,908.

“To be able to attend GCA is a blessing. Because of my time here, I have grown in so many ways, including the way my relationship with Christ has developed while at GCA," said Cameron Morrison, class of 2021. "None of this would have happened without the help of generous people!”  

The transformational ministry of Adventist education deserves our best energies and our most generous resources. Gary Rustad, Georgia-Cumberland Conference president, said, "As I witness GCA’s story take place, it encourages me that this is possible at each Adventist school across the NAD. Good leadership, a clear vision, dedicated supporters, and a commitment to making God the center of the process will truly strengthen Adventist Education as we move into the future.”  

In Ephesians 3:20 the apostle Paul reminds us of God’s ability to accomplish audacious things: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (NIV).  

May we always remember that a bold vision, aligned with His will, is never beyond God’s ability to provide the resources needed!

Nancy Gerard is director of alumni and development for Georgia-Cumberland Academy in Calhoun, Georgia.


Georgia-Cumberland Academy administration building “after” photo; photos provided by Nancy Gerard