Texas: Redeemed Christian Church of God dedicates $15.5 million Pavilion Center

Texas: Redeemed Christian Church of God dedicates $15.5 million Pavilion Center
 Brad Loper/Staff Photographer Leora Olorunnisomo works to arrange chairs in the new Pavilion Center.

Brad Loper/Staff Photographer
Leora Olorunnisomo works to arrange chairs in the new Pavilion Center.

(DALLAS NEWS) It was on a drive to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport that the Holy Spirit revealed his plans to Pastor E.A. Adeboye. The Dallas-Fort Worth area, he was told, would become the North American headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God.

That was about 25 years ago, church officials said, when the Pentecostal Holiness denomination, based in Nigeria, did not have any churches in the U.S.

After growing vigorously the last couple of decades, opening more than 50 churches in North Texas, another big piece of Adeboye’s vision was realized Wednesday.

The church dedicated the $15.5 million Pavilion Center at its ever-expanding Redemption Camp, which sits on 800 acres of prairieland in the Hunt County town of Floyd, about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.

Adeboye, the church’s worldwide leader and guiding force, flew in for the dedication, which came on the same day the church kicked off its 17th annual North American convention, which ends early Saturday.

The new center seats 10,000 people, about the number of guests church officials expect to attend the convention.

“Our development process is simple,” said Pastor Doyin Oke, chief operations officer of the church’s North American headquarters. “Start small and go big.”

That starting point describes Floyd — small. The unincorporated former railroad stop near Greenville might seem an unlikely spot for the church’s revival and the site of its Redemption Camp.

But it’s no mystery to Pastor O.J. Kuye how the church’s North American camp landed there, down a dirt road and in the middle of a field dotted with hay bales.

“God himself located the church where it is,” he said.

That was in 2000, when a local rancher, whom Kuye referred to as Brother John, sold 103 acres of farmland, at the exact cost he bought it, to the church.

As neighboring land becomes available, the church keeps buying and building, crafting the area into a model of the Redemption Camp in Lagos, Nigeria.

In March, construction was completed on a $1 million water tower, a prerequisite for opening Pavilion Center.

Oke said the center, with office suites, concert-style speakers and stage lighting, will be used year-round for a series of church events and made available for rental.

He expects five wings of seating to be built around the center, greatly enhancing its capacity, in two or three years.

Already at the Redemption Camp is an administration building and a community center, formerly Floyd Elementary School.

The church also has acquired homes, including one that was expanded into a house for Adeboye, complete with a pond and guarded gate.

Eventually, the campground will feature more than 100 single- and multi-family homes, a fish farm, schools and a university, all bankrolled by donations, Kuye said.

“It’s going to be a community,” Oke said.

Lining the entry road, off County Road 1118, colorful banners read “The Lord my Righteousness” and “God is a Covenant Keeper.”

“We are the light of the world,” said Pastor James Fadele, chairman of the North American church. “We have planted these churches to beam that light.”

The origins of the Redeemed Christian Church of God date to 1952, when Pa Josiah Akindayomi, who had won followers through his healing abilities, founded the church in Lagos.

It is an evangelical denomination with a mission to make it to heaven and take as many people as possible along.

Members of the congregation often break into emotional, slain-in-the-spirit worship during services. The yells and claps are believed to be verbal expressions of the Holy Spirit.

Oke estimated that the church has more than 5 million followers worldwide and has established churches in 147 countries, with Dallas-Fort Worth housing the largest concentration in the U.S.

Those numbers will only increase, Oke said. The plan is to establish churches within a five-minute drive of one another in developed countries, where most people have a vehicle, and within a five-minute walk in developing countries.

“I don’t think it makes a lot of sense if I have to drive one hour to Starbucks,” Oke said. “So it’s the same way. We don’t want people to have to drive one hour to get to church.”

As employees and volunteers nailed down carpet and arranged flowers late Tuesday at the Pavilion Center, Oke said he was “very, very proud” of the project. There is no timeline for the rest of the campsite’s structures, but Oke said he anticipates expansion to continue for years as the church leader’s children carry on the tradition of buying and expanding.

“The way we do things,” Oke said, “there never is an end.”

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