FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 3, 2013) -- For Soldiers looking to get a little rest and relaxation on the weekends, Edgewood Baptist Church in Columbus is now opening its doors on Saturdays to all active duty military.

Edgewood opened its Soldiers' R&R Center in January, and military minister Ryan Pearse said the center is intended to allow Soldiers to enjoy some down time away from training.

"Essentially, it's kind of like a USO," Pearse said. "We just offer a place for Soldiers to come and rest and relax. We give them food, drink, let them watch movies, whatever they want to do. It's completely free, and we just kind of want to help them out and minister to them because I know they have a hard week of training."

The center features a full-size gymnasium with basketball and volleyball, a weight room, washer and dryer, lounge areas, big screen TVs, computers, video games, WiFi access, snacks throughout the day and an evening meal, as well as Bible studies and devotionals if Soldiers choose to participate.

Pvt. Stephen Bacco, a Ranger Assessment & Selection Program candidate from Baltimore, Md., said the best thing about the center is also one of the simplest.

"The biggest thing is when you're in the barracks all the time and you're going straight from basic training to Airborne to RASP, it's nice to come here and be able to have a sofa and a TV," Bacco said. "Just being able to have a sofa here is very rewarding."

Like Bacco, other Soldiers who have taken advantage of the center have been RASP candidates, a group Pearse said has been a focus of Edgewood's military ministry.

"Traditionally, it is Airborne and RASSP guys because those guys work hard during the week, but usually have the weekend off," Pearse said. "Another distinguishing point with those guys is that they're not permanent party. A lot of lower-level enlisted Soldiers don't have anything else to do on a Saturday and they don't have a home to go to or anything like that, so they like to come here and just rest and relax."

The center is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every Saturday, and is located at 3564 Forrest Road, Columbus. For more information, visit or contact Pearse at 706-566-9386.