Ministry Reclaiming Dilapidated Buildings From Old Heritage USA

Associated Press/March 19, 2007

Fort Mill, South Carolina -- A hotel that once was the centerpiece of Jim Bakker's PTL ministries has been reclaimed and is once again being used to host Christian conferences and gatherings.

Trevor Tiessen, conference administrator for MorningStar Fellowship, said the old Heritage Grand Hotel was dilapidated and smelled rotten just two years ago. That was before more than 300 volunteers cleaned and renovated it in just a few months.

The Christian-themed resort's old Main Street USA has a bookstore, an art gallery and schools for students from kindergarten to college.

PTL collapsed in a sex and finances scandal in the late 1980s. Several past attempts to keep the properties going have failed.

"The most exciting thing for me about the restoration has been to see the joy so many people have had in this," said MorningStar founder and director Rick Joyner. "Especially a large number of local citizens who moved here to be a part of the former ministry and suffered so much disappointment at what happened then, but now seem so encouraged to see it coming alive again."

Joyner said he has no interest in reviving PTL, but he spoke with many of the former ministry's supporters -- some of whom suggested MorningStar try to finish the Towers building, which had been slated for demolition.

Joyner said one plan would be to turn that 21-story building into a retirement and hospice center.

MorningStar began as a Christian publishing company about the time PTL was going under. The organization holds Sunday services in the lobby of the former Grand hotel and is just one of a handful of other ministries operating on the Heritage property.

Developer Earl Coulston's wife operates the Flames of Fire Ministry, Zadok House of Prayer on the site and anti-abortion groups such as The Cause are based there.

Still, some neighbors oppose MorningStar's plan to restore the Towers building, which many consider an eyesore. The York County Council would have to approve any plans for the structure.

But Joyner is hopeful the property can be given a second chance.

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