The Tabernacle transfers ownership of downtown building


When a standalone gymnasium was built on Mill Street in Seymour a block from The Tabernacle, Pastor Larry Arrowood thought, “That’s it. We’re done. We’ve got everything we need.”

Then Seymour Christian Academy and Little Angels Daycare, which were housed in the same building as the church at 301 Indianapolis Ave., outgrew their spaces.

“I think we had a wonderful staff that cared about children. It wasn’t just their job. They loved children,” he said of the growth of the school and daycare, noting one of the largest funerals conducted in the church was for a daycare employee. “That gives you a little idea of why it grew so well.”

That growth led to a larger youth program and congregation at the church.

But there was one problem: They were landlocked and out of parking on the half-acre property in the downtown.

Around 2015, church leaders realized, “Either we don’t grow or we move,” so they began looking at options for a new location.

“It wasn’t that we just wanted to move,” Arrowood said. “In fact, we thoroughly enjoyed being in the heart of the city. It was special. That was one of those decisions you have to make, ‘Do we move out to the edge of town?’ but it was the right decision.”

They found the perfect spot in the former union carpenters building at 5707 N. Sandy Creek Drive just west of Interstate 65, and it was remodeled to house the school, which changed its name to Sandy Creek Christian Academy, and later the daycare.

The building sits on 36 acres, so that left plenty of room for the third phase of the project: Building a new church.

Until that can happen in three years, The Tabernacle is meeting in a temporary sanctuary in the north end of the building.

With the hard work of many people in a short amount of time, the church was able to have its first service there this past Sunday.

That followed a transitional service in the sanctuary of the downtown building, during which Arrowood handed the keys to the new occupants, a Guatemalan congregation that in recent years had met in the former location of The Alley on East Second Street but had outgrown that space with more than 500 members.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, members of the two congregations came together, and a blessing and a prayer were offered to the Guatemalan church members. “The Blessing” was sung in Spanish before Arrowood turned over the keys, and then members of The Tabernacle drove in a processional to the temporary sanctuary.

“We’ve had a wonderful relationship with them, at first thinking they would be renting and then over time to be able to help them purchase,” Arrowood said of the Guatemalan owners. “They are very gracious people.”

During The Tabernacle’s Oct. 10 worship service, Arrowood announced the mortgage was paid off for the Sandy Creek Drive building. The downtown building was their security for the mortgage, and when it and the gymnasium were sold, they were able to pay the entire mortgage, which was nearly $1.5 million.

Then the congregation united to remodel the space for the temporary sanctuary, which included polishing the floor, building walls, blacking out the ceiling, designing and building a large stage, constructing a sound and recording booth and setting out chairs.

The original intent for that part of the building was a community fun center, but Arrowood said that’s on hold until they get the church built.

Right now, the plans call for a 100-by-100-foot auditorium with a 50-by-150-foot vestibule with a wraparound on two sides, and a corridor will connect the new church building to the existing building. Phase 4 is a three-year plan, Arrowood said.

For some church members, including Andrew Johnson, the change has been bittersweet. He started going to The Tabernacle in 2006.

“Ever since, the church family has made us their family, so forming relationships in that building has been special for my wife and I,” he said.

While he struggled with the change at first, the more involved he became in the new building, the less he struggled.

“I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us on Sandy Creek Drive and to make new memories with old friends,” Johnson said.

Karlie Henderson said Sunday was filled with all of the emotions with the transitional service being her last service in that building, but she is excited to see what the Lord has in store for the new congregation meeting there and also members of The Tabernacle.

“I definitely couldn’t help but let the tears flow, though, as I praised God for the last time in this beautiful building,” she wrote on Facebook. “Many of my most cherished days and moments over the last 11 years have taken place in this building.”

In the downtown building, she said she experienced God’s presence like she had never experienced it before for the first time and also was baptized there. Because of her experiences there, she said she decided to go to church camp. Plus, she was married in the building, her mother was baptized there and her young son was dedicated back to the Lord and started Sunday school there.

“On countless occasions, I’ve heard a word from God and received peace that surpasses understanding in this building. This place will always hold a very special place in my heart,” Henderson wrote. “Here’s to all that God has in store for the future and all of the new memories that will be made at our Sandy Creek location.”

Everything the church has accomplished is rewarding to Arrowood considering its humble beginnings.

In 1953, it started as Woodstock Apostolic Church in a house on Shields Avenue. It later moved down the street into a one-room schoolhouse that was remodeled.

In 1968, the church moved downtown and became known as Apostolic Pentecostal Tabernacle. Arrowood arrived in 1972 and served as an assistant pastor and youth pastor. Then he left for a while before returning in 1982, which is when the school started, and he became pastor in 1989, which is when the church became known as The Tabernacle and the daycare opened.

Today, there are more than 40 paid staff members, the school enrollment K-12 is nearly 130 and the daycare has about 50 kids and a waiting list.

It all continues to thrive and grow.

“It’s quite exciting,” Arrowood said, smiling.

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