Bethel Colony of Mercy Reviews, Cost, Complaints

Bethel Colony of Mercy


bethel-colony-of-mercy-dreamstimeBethel Colony of Mercy Review

In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, there’s a residential recovery facility dedicated to sobriety and spirituality. After seeking faith-based help for his substance abuse struggles, founder Jim Claffee turned his life around and decided to open his own facility. Started in 1948, Bethel Colony of Mercy is located in Lenoir, North Carolina, and it’s from here that missionaries are still helping men battle addiction.

Accommodations and Food

Bethel Colony of Mercy’s residential complex accommodates 82 men in dorm-like quarters. Each room has two beds, a desk and either a multi-shelved armoire or dresser—bathrooms are shared between 10 men.

The cafeteria receives supplies via donations or food banks. The menu includes things like casseroles, pot roast, chicken, green vegetables, soups, sandwiches and various starches (e.g., rolls)—water and soda accompany each meal. Though caffeine isn’t generally allowed, Pepsi sometimes donates beverages; but these drinks are served only during mealtime.

Treatment and Staff

Bethel Colony of Mercy is a faith-based program so there are no clinical or medical practices here and it requests that any detox take place prior to registering. However, it does offer its services to dual diagnosis clients.

All clients start with a 65-day program, with the possibility of four 30-day extensions—if a client desires more time—and a six-month vocational student program. Every client is assigned a primary counselor. Residents receive one individual session per week, but if a client is experiencing problems, their counselor will make room for them. Rather than group therapy, pastor-counselors teach classes. Again, there are no doctors, psychologists or psychiatrists—they call their approach “new-setting pastoral counseling.” Instead of 12-step meetings, residents are required to attend a local church, where they can testify and fellowship with the congregation. Bethel Colony of Mercy also holds three on-site services per week—two mornings and one evening.

A large portion of the program at Bethel Colony of Mercy is peer driven. The men are given assignments after attending classes—things like working in the kitchen, general housekeeping and chores—working alongside other men who’ve also been through Bethel’s program. The idea is for alumni to act as mentors, guiding new clients through early recovery much like a 12-step sponsor.

Residents get a total of four visits while staying at Bethel—family only. After a client completes his initial 10 days, his family is allowed to join him during any church service. If loved ones desire a more personal visit, they may come on Saturdays between 3 pm and 10 pm, or Sundays between morning and evening service. (Please note that weekend visits count as only one. Therefore, family members can come a total of four weekends.) Should a resident request it, family can participate in counseling. The first session is restricted to a husband and wife—the other members are brought in afterward. Bethel Colony of Mercy will also permit extended family members to visit, but only as a special request.

This is a working program. Clients are expected to be of service to each other and to the facility. Monday through Saturday, residents wake at 6:30 am for breakfast at 7. Room inspection follows at 7:30 am—beds must be made and rooms clean. 7:55 am is devotion time, with a Bible class at 8:30. Work assignments, including kitchen chores and general housekeeping, begin after class, with a break for lunch at noon. The work day doesn’t end until 4:30 pm, with cleanup and dinner at 5. Evening service begins at 6:30 pm (Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday only). After supper, if there isn’t an evening class, residents are given free time. Lights out is at 10:30 pm. On Sundays, residents have Bible study, prayer, an early morning worship service and an evening chapel service.

Five pastors and 12 staff members are available to Bethel Colony of Mercy’s clients—a client-to-staff ratio of roughly five-to-one. Though not all employees are alums, every staff member has been through some sort of faith-based-treatment program. With the exception of one female, the staff is all male. All but two staff members live on campus, allowing for 24/7 assistance.


Bethel Colony of Mercy not only welcomes those struggling with substance abuse, but also men with behavioral health issues, like eating disorders. Six-month residents enjoy extra-curricular activities such as bowling, barbequing in the mountains, visiting the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte and field trips to the Waldensian Trail of Faith.

Residents have access to an on-site weight room, a basketball court, Ping-Pong/air-hockey table and softball field—exercise is optional but encouraged. The media room has a computer lab, but it’s restricted to program-related use.

In Summary

For Bethel Colony of Mercy, clinical methods are not the only way to find a better way of living. Ultimately, it’s a great option for men who are open to spirituality and on a tight budget—out in the country and away from urban chaos.

Bethel Colony of Mercy Location

1675 Bethel Colony Rd
Lenoir, NC 28645

Bethel Colony of Mercy Cost

$250 entry fee. Reach Bethel Colony of Mercy by phone at (828) 754-3781 or by email at [email protected]. Find Bethel Colony of Mercy on Facebook and Google+

Do you have a complaint or review of Bethel Colony of Mercy to add? Use the comments area below to add your Bethel Colony of Mercy review.



  1. larry e craver on

    Things must have really changed since I left. The kitchen’s Sanitary conditions far surpassed any restaurant/food prep establishment I ever worked in. I assure you the Sanitation Grade it would have received then was at least an A+. Every plate, dish, pan, pot, utensil was thoroughly washed, rinsed in hot water with bleach, and hand dried with clean dry cotton towels. The floors in the kitchen, dining room and storage area was mopped with hot bleach water before and after EVERY meal. Then, the mops, towels, rags and aprons were cleaned with hot water and bleach and dried (the mops hung outside to air dry. ALL garbage carried outside to the dumpster and the trash cans rinsed and left to dry.

    The pastors Ritchie, Pruitt and the staff and counselors (@ least 9 out of 10) were at ALL times caring, compassionate, considerate and available to me and with ALL others I saw them interact . Very well informed, instructional, educated, encouraging, caring professionals.
    I have got to go back and see why Mr. Magness’ experience was so altered from mine. I thank God and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ for my opportunity to attend this Colony of Mercy and meet and interact with ALL the people I was so fortunate to have met and learned from, both personnel and participants.
    As with ALL things in life, you take away what you bring and leave behind, it’s all about CHOICES!

  2. Bethel Colony is a Great Place to learn about the Master of the Universe and my savior Jesus. In no way is bethel oppressive and the staff has nothing but love and devotion to each student. I graduated bethel in 13 and the education I got at bethel inspired me to give Jesus a try and I never looked back. I had already tried the world and failed miserably. Of course its not Malibu but those places have NO substance its all fluff and pampering, without uncomfort there is no gain not that Bethel is uncomfortable but it teaches you how to be a man and how to interact with Jesus. In the age we live in more and more Christianity is despised Bethel is a beacon of light in a dark and dying world. I would not tell someone to go there if it wasn’t legit.

  3. jEFF MAGNESS on

    Although this ;
    facility portrays a loving, caring Christian environment, it is a totally different experience. Many angry Christians, trying to overcome addiction .This is DEFINATELY NOT AN ATMOSPHERE for the new Christian. They are very unforgiving. The staff is very self centered, unforgiving hard to the nose.. This is not the Jesus that I know. I don’t why man has to seek to control others. rather than to love them into Jesus Christ. It never ceases to amaze me that man’s word has to be involved. I wa out on a weekend pass, came back, was drug tested and found to be positive for benzodiazipines AND barbituates. NO WAY. They relied on their urine sample and still did not notify me until 3 hours after the fact. Something is wrong with this system And I intend to exonerate myself from this false positive. They would not give me the time of day when I offered to have a blood sample drawn. In the mean time I heard from one of the other “students”. that there was a consensus that I was positive for meds. even before taking into account previous circumstances, I had been in the hospital previously three weeks prior These people are VERY JUDGEMENTAL ,seeking no alternative defenses. Not a chance in hell at this place. And these people call themselves Christians? As a Christian myself , I have a tremendous problem calling these people my brothers and sisters. Christians have their place, but do not impose their personal beliefs on our lives. The word of God is .as it stands….Not tainted with MAN’S WORD………..PLUS, no sanitation in the kitchen.. someone needs to look into this, NO SANITIZER IN DISH RINSE WATER…DISHES ARE LEFT DRIPPING,,,NOT DRIED OFF. NO WONDER PEOPLE HAS DIARRHEA THERE!

    • Derek Faulkner on

      Sounds like sour grapes to me…..I graduated the Bethel Program in 1992 and my memory of the facility is much different than yours. A victim mentality is a sign of someone who is still in active addiction or at the very least immature. I have the privilege to work with a number of men who successfully complete the Bethel Program. I have never heard one negative comment that was so significant that these men would decide to leave the program. Yeah, it’s tough to turn 180 degrees and head in another direction…..however, you called them – they did not call you. Their methods may not appeal to you and they have been doing what they do for a lot longer than your “snapshot of time” being there. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions and stop pointing fingers.

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