Robert C. Anderson, Presbyterian Leader at Montreat

The Montreat Gate at unknown date. Image from the Swannanoa Valley Museum.On July 26, 1864, Dr. Robert C. Anderson was born near Martinsville, Virginia.

After attending Hampden-Sydney College and Union Theological Seminary, both in Virginia, Anderson was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1890. From that year until 1911, he pastored four different churches, including one in North Carolina.

In 1911, Anderson became president of the Mountain Retreat Association (MRA) of Montreat. John Collins, a Congregationalist minister from Connecticut, had started the association nearly 15 years earlier with the goal of a building a Christian retreat where people could gather for physical and spiritual renewal.

It was Anderson who truly brought Collins’s vision to fruition and created much of what’s now the Montreat Conference Center.

During his nearly 40-year tenure at the helm of the group, MRA founded a small girls’ school and saw it grow into a four-year college, and completed construction on much of the current campus, including Anderson Auditorium.

Anderson also turned around the association’s financial fortunes, initiating a successful capital campaign and promoting the facility in a more focused way to both attract more visitors and give the center a larger role in the Presbyterian Church’s mission work.

In addition to welcoming visitors for more than a century, the center played an appropriate role as a testing ground for new doctrinal ideas and fostered racial justice.

Anderson died in 1955 and was buried in Charlotte.

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