Jim Bakker may return to Fort Mill for special visit

WCNC 6 News (North Carolina)/October 18, 2005
By Tiffani Helberg

Fort Mill, S.C. -- The old home of Jim Bakker’s ministry in Fort Mill was once considered the third largest attraction in the country. But for more than a decade the 2,200 acre site sat under cobwebs, destroyed by vagrants.

The old Praise the Lord, or PTL, has been renovated under its new owners.

Rick Joyner is proud of his diamond in the rough. The Grand Hotel has 500 rooms.

“It is the largest hotel in South Carolina as far as numbers of rooms,” Joyner said.

His church, Morning Star Fellowship, renovated the old PTL.

“You know there had obviously been homeless people here. There had been. They'd started fires, broken about everything you could break,” Joyner said.

Tuesday it hosted a large meeting area for church services.

Main Street will return to life with shops, restaurants and a grand ballroom, everything Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye hoped it would be back in the 80s, before a felony conviction changed everything.

“We would like to have him back as a guest speaker at a conference,” Joyner said. “The true story of Christianity is redemption and that it doesn't matter how bad you failed there's hope.”

Bakker's PTL return could be just in time for the new year. His former wife has already stopped in to see the progress.

“And to also express her appreciation to us for restoring the place and it was a very nice meeting,” Joyner said.

The site has a new television studio and a school.

“State of the art lighting, sound systems, everything,” Joyner said.

The old water park was torn down to make way for even more restaurants and shops. It is a complete overhaul of the PTL that Joyner said is re-energizing Christians worldwide.

“It was kind of a humiliation to the whole church world,” Joyner said. “So just hearing that it’s being restored and rebuilt just kind of touched everybody.”

Morning Star is working on renovating one of the buildings to use as a retirement home and engineers are studying the old castle to see if it can be turned into a youth ministry.

Morning Star Fellowship said it spent at least $1 million in renovations so far. It expects to spend $5 million overall with the hopes that everything will be open in a year.

Part of the property is owned by Coulston Enterprises, friends of Morning Star.

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