published Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Worship event draws 6,000 young people to Dalton

People of all ages crowd inside of the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, Ga., for Winter Ramp Friday. Several thousand people sang and praised together with the band Higher during the annual youth event put together by Karen Wheaton Ministries of Alabama.
People of all ages crowd inside of the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton, Ga., for Winter Ramp Friday. Several thousand people sang and praised together with the band Higher during the annual youth event put together by Karen Wheaton Ministries of Alabama.
Photo by Jenna Walker.

About 6,000 young people gathered in Dalton, Ga., this weekend for a conference expected to bring more than $1 million in estimated economic impact.

Those dollars are important in Whitfield County, which has struggled to recoup sales tax dollars lost since 2008.

"This is one of, if not the, biggest event for our community this year," Rebecca Bolton, director of sales and marketing for the Northwest Georgia Trade and Convention Center, wrote in an email. "Our team has worked to bring this event here for over a year."

The 10th annual Winter Ramp, produced by Karen Wheaton Ministries of Hamilton, Ala., provides three days of Christian worship, ministry through dance and drama and preaching to youth from all over the United States and Canada, according to Joe Reeser, a staff member of the ministry.

The conference began in Whitfield County on Thursday evening and continued with several sessions held Friday and today.

"This event is extremely important for the Dalton community, bringing upwards of 6,000 people from all over the country to Dalton and filling the hotels and restaurants in an otherwise very slow time of year," Bolton wrote.

Reeser said most of the youths are high school students from church groups. Many of them may be facing difficulties in their lives such as substance abuse, addiction or coming from broken homes, he said.

"Our primary focus is ministering to youth groups from all over the nation; we want them to experience the presence of God," Reeser said. "To see those kids literally experience freedom from depression and darkness, from pain and grief, is the highlight of the weekend."

The annual event first was held at the ministry's headquarters in Alabama, but it was moved to Chattanooga last year after it outgrew the ministry's capacity. Next year, organizers plan to return to Chattanooga, Reeser said.

The Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the event last year had an economic impact of $2.7 million for the city.

Dalton and Whitfield County officials have worked to promote tourism in the area. Last year, total lodging tax collected in the city and county was a record $1.035 million, the first time the amount has exceeded $1 million. Officials have said they hope to set another record this year.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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cannonball said...

I hope they had enough bathrooms ronnie. why dont you look into that?

December 31, 2011 at 8:51 a.m.
librul said...

Since religion is the opiate of the people, they all just look stoned to me.

December 31, 2011 at 10:29 a.m.
Dante0510 said...

Nah. That's called coming together worshiping JESUS ! We aren't STONED. if worshiping Jesus looks being stoned to YOU then YOU need to get WITH THE PROGRAM ! that's exactly the reason why this Generation is Dying and going to hell because people like you with dumb comments like this. Instead you saying something presentable you wanna say we looked stoned. Well I'd rathered be STONED FOR JESUS THAN TO BE LIKE YOU , A PERSON WHO HAS NOTHING BETTER ELSE TO DO BUT SIT AROUND MAKE DUMB COMMENTS. be blessed and have a happy new year.

January 1, 2012 at 3:18 p.m.
librul said...

"The Dark Side Of Christian History" by Helen Elerbe.

If you still have a functional brain, Dante, read it before the next convention. You'll probably find that you have no reason to go. As you can see above, it's really all about the money. Of course, no one will be surprised if your brainwashing has progressed beyond the point of no return - it's a fairly common condition among the religio-addicted. Hope you can find a rehab program before your candle burns out.

January 1, 2012 at 10:39 p.m.
Yahweh247 said...

Hey Dante0510, all we can do is be good influences on people. That is what He would want anyways. Have you ever been to THE RAMP before? If you haven't ever experienced this then there shouldn't be a reason to post a comment on here anyways. If you want to see more go to http://theramp.org/ and you'll see even more of His awesome work. We live over here in Oklahoma which is 10hrs away but we drive all the way up there because His presence get's so thick none of the flesh can enter that place. I've never been to RampGeorgia but we will one of these days. We started a church here called THE GATE and we partner with THE RAMP. We've known about then since 1999 and the first time we got to go was in 2009 after we just had started THE GATE. We talked to Karen the first time we went there and she has the heart I want everybody to have. That is one reason you see millions of people going to experience His presence because Karen listened to Him and started that place. That is what we want here in our town. People that are woke up! We have conferences every month but not one church has came to the gathering. Because this world thinks we're trying to take over this town and steal people out of their church. No! We call it The Awakening because God wants us to WAKE UP. When you have a "gathering" it is sharing His presence with others. We haven't stopped these conferences because He told us to start it. Karen, she didn't stop and look where they are in His presence. THIS is what I want to see around this whole nation. People on fire and in love with Jesus! God bless!! ::Prayer Warrior of THE GATE::

January 2, 2012 at 9:17 a.m.
His_Girl said...

So, I have to weigh in on this. We are not brainwashed; just awakened to who God really is and what He has done for us. Librul I pray that your eyes will be opened to the reality of who God is and the plans He has for your life. We also are not religio-addicts we actually hate religion as Jesus did but we LOVE God. This is not about going to church twice a week and not cursing it is way more than that. You see I will tell you a little about me...my dad molested me when I was 18 mos old and my mom left me with someone so that she could work on her marriage. So, I guess because of that I grew up craving male attention. I began stripping and using drugs by the age of 18. I continued living a wild life filled with drugs, crimes, alcoholism, promiscuity, and other sexual perversion. I even slept on the street at times. When I was 23 I was struck by a car while crossing the street that was going like 45 and didn't break anything; but that did not change my wild lifestyle. Three months later I overdosed on heroin and woke up in an ambulance. I still kept living how I wanted to. Then one day I was kinda broke from the night before I had like five dollars to my name I could either buy a pint of hundred proof vodka or some cigarettes. I decided I could buy the alcohol and buy a cigarette on the street. After all I was headed to the strip club and I would have some cigarettes soon. I saw a man on my way to work and stop and ask to buy a cigarette from him. He said he didn't smoke but said I needed to go to church with him and his wife. At that moment I felt God like I had never before. I went back home and prayed and God radically changed my life. Now, almost four years later I am a senior in college (I start my last semester Mon. before I receive my bachelor's degree in Justice Administration), a student leader on my campus, and just married my best friend in Aug. I didn't do that by myself; God did it all! He that has been forgive much loves much! We love God SOO much because He first loved us and are so happy to be free. That is what this is about not money. <

January 5, 2012 at 9:36 p.m.
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