20 June, 2024

Longtime Georgia Minister, Christian Camp Enthusiast David Terrell Dies

by | 20 May, 2024 | 1 comment

David Terrell, 87, who served as senior minister with Cornelia (Ga.) Christian Church for 51 years and who started North Georgia Christian Camp in the 1960s, died on May 11, 2024. 

After graduating from high school, the Georgia native attended West Georgia College and then served a year in the U.S. Army. “In 1958,” according to his obituary, “he met Phyllis Newell at a church service, and after hearing her sing, told a buddy he was going to marry her. He proposed on their third date, and they were married in 1959. Together, they raised nine children.” She died in 2019. 

He began his ministry with CCC in 1965, and early on commuted to Atlanta Christian College (now Point University) for three years to earn his degree. 


His obituary describes him as “tireless in his work. He had a genuine love for people and felt a great responsibility for being present to deliver a word of comfort and hope for those in need,” especially those in the hospital. He helped guide multiple generations of church families. 

“Through the years, he started youth rallies, began church leagues for softball and basketball, ran a bus ministry, started The Joyful Noise Choir tours in Florida, and wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper,” the obituary states. “In 1966, he stepped out in faith to pursue his true passion—starting a camp. As a boy from a poor family, he wanted to make it possible for all children to go to camp and learn about God, because a similar experience deeply impacted his own life. This led him to begin drawing up the vision which has now become North Georgia Christian Camp in Clarkesville, Georgia. The camp has ministered to thousands of children of all ages since then.” 

In a Facebook post, Jared Cox, director at North Georgia Christian Camp, wrote of his grandfather’s efforts to get the camp started: “He cleared trees, made roads, built buildings, and laid the foundation—literally—for the camp to become what it is today. . . . He continued to be a part of the camp’s ministry until the end. He was here just a little over a week ago—watching and laughing as some of his peers rode the zip-line down the mountainside. I tried to get him to do it. . . . He was wiser than me—laughing and saying, ‘not this time.’” 

David Terrell’s friend David Simpson (senior minister of Lanier Christian Church in Georgia for 48 years), wrote in his church newsletter that Terrell may have been only 5 feet 4 inches tall, but he was “a giant of a man. He was a giant in his faith. A giant in his love for his family. A giant in his founding of and commitment to the North Georgia Christian Camp. A giant in his dedication to the Lord’s church. A giant in his love and kindness toward countless people. And, he was a giant of a friend to me for all my years of ministry.” 

After stepping down as senior minister in 2016, David Terrell continued to serve CCC as an elder. He also worked at making improvements to the Lower Campus of Cornelia Christian Church, “creating a place for families to gather in a beautiful setting for events, picnics, and fellowship.” 

He is survived by 9 children; 25 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and 3 brothers. In addition to his wife, he was preceded in death by a granddaughter.  

A funeral service conducted last Wednesday can be viewed at CCC’s Facebook page and at Whitfield Funeral Home’s website. Pastors Greg Miller and David Simpson officiated. Interment was at Yonah Memorial Gardens. 

Memorial contributions may be made to North Georgia Christian Camp or to the Lower Campus Fund of Cornelia Christian Church

1 Comment

  1. Monica Miller

    Thank you for this tribute to my dad who was greater than even this article described. He will forever be missed, but remembered.

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