Life Tabernacle Expands to 41-Acre Campus With 5,000-Seat Brush Arbor Freedom Center

By Woody Jenkins • Editor • Central City News • CITY OF CENTRAL — While the nation and state have shut down, Life Tabernacle Church in Central has been growing dramatically. One of the few churches in the country that continued in-person worship services in the sanctuary during the pandemic, it has held its own locally while developing a nationwide ministry via the Central City News broadcast of services.

Several million viewers have watched the church’s services online. On some individual Sundays, viewership has reached as many as 500,000. More than 600 people have been baptized at the church the past year.

The 15 acres at the corner of Hooper and Sullivan roads was acquired by the church in 2005 for $1.1 million.  That tract now includes a 1,400-seat sanctuary, gym, parsonage, and other facilities.  After the flood of August 2016, the church acquired a 20-acre tract on Blackwater Road near the original church property. That tract includes four baseball fields with a large concession stand, observation deck, youth ministry buildings, and a mobile home for retired Bishop Bervick Spell, who founded the ministry.

Unfortunately, the two tracts did not connect, requiring anyone traveling between the two to go via Blackwater Road.  However, on March 1, Life Tabernacle was able to acquire the “missing link” between the properties — a six-acre tract that has some unique advantages, including a beautiful pond and a massive airplane hangar, which was previously used to repair airplanes.  

Since the purchase, Rev. Tony Spell, members of the congregation and five Central contractors have been working night and day to transform the property and unify it with the other two tracts.

The airplane hangar will be converted into the Brush Arbor Freedom Center, a 5,000-seat conference center that will be used for national and state gatherings of all sorts.  Last summer, when national youth conferences around the country were cancelled, Life Tabernacle hosted Revolution, a nationwide camp-style meeting for Pentecostal youth.  More than 3,000 young people from almost every state participated in the three-day conference.

For that event, Life Tabernacle rented a giant tent, flooring, and air conditioning. It was a success and online viewership topped half a million viewers.

Now the rush is to complete the conversion of the airplane hangar to the new conference center in time for the opening of Revolution on June 30. The conference will run from June 30 to July 4 and conclude with a fireworks display over the baseball fields.

The six-acre tract has been transformed dramatically since it was purchased March 1.  The land has been cleared of trash trees and underbrush, fences have been removed, the land has been graded, concrete has been poured, and sod has been laid. Here are details:

•1,074 cubic yards of trees and debris have been removed.

•Bulkheads have been installed in 50 percent of the pond.

•100 truckloads of soil and sand have been brought in.

•120 yards of concrete have been poured, completing the foundation of the former airplane hangar.

•6,000 bolts have been replaced in the roof

•Beams have been painted.

•A 20×120 patio is being formed behind the gym, which will provide a place to sit and eat outdoors.

•The three mobile homes on the properly will be removed soon.

•18,250 square feet of sod have been laid.

• Landscaping will begin shortly thereafter.

•Completion of the bulkhead should come soon along with a nature trail and prayer garden.

Contractors on the project include Gomez Construction, Total Foundations, Meristream Tree Co., Charlie Kleinpeter dirt work, and Coastal Bulkheads.

The Central City News Facebook page should provide frequent updates.

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