Non-denominational church welcomes everyone

August 08, 2003|EMILY BURTON

Lincoln County's newest church is in a small tin building and shares space with an insurance office.

Inside the double blue doors, the fire of God can be felt. People are healed, relationships are fixed and dancing puppets sing Blues Brothers' songs. A small room, now decorated with road signs and a "Grade A Garaje" is home to The Tabernacle.

Though still a young church, the non-denominational Tabernacle has brought a new energy to the Stanford community through its modern services and enthusiastic worship.

This week they opened their doors to Lincoln County children for Bible school, with a theme of "Travel God's Way."

As with all activities at the Tabernacle, they did it with spunk.

Kids could win a CD player, overgrown Tiggers and pogo sticks as reward for daily attendance. Bright orange construction-cone puppets drove cars, sang catchy tunes - all of which fueled children into riots of screams and laughter while somehow still teaching them life lessons.


There were bible school songs reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet booming from large speakers, as well as kids dancing in the aisles and a general sense of absolute pandemonium.

Harrises are directing bible school, children's ministry

Jim and Cindy Harris smiled, prayed and kept napkins close at hand. As directors of the bible school and children's ministry, they have come to expect almost anything.

They began with a single puppet in a picture frame to entertain eight children and have since grown their puppet family to include a score of characters on stage performing box office movie skits for over 20 young audience members.

"When we came here, we took over children's ministry and it opened a lot of doors," said Jim Harris, who admits he worried that he was too old when first introduced to the idea of performing puppet ministries.

Now they dream of a traveling puppet trailer and stage and bringing the word of God to children who can't make it to the church.

"We wanted to reach out to the kids of the community. A lot of them haven't been to church before. We want to give them a little hope for the future and show them somebody does care for them," said Jim Harris.

Pippin and Hall are the pastors

Pastors Shane Pippin and Ken Hall hope adults can find the same sense of love and hope at the Tabernacle, though they don't use puppets to raise the Holy Spirit in parishioners.

Pastor Hall, an original member, described his church as, "charismatic, very close and hungry for God. Very hungry."

"It's not church as usual. It's not a program," said church member Roger Southerland. "The Spirit of God is here and he's moving."

Pastor Pippin and his wife, Josie, were two of the original members of the Tabernacle when services were held in an old auto garage.

"We were cleaning it up and making it a church, all the car equipment wasn't out yet." said Josie, worship leader.

An outreach of New Direction Christian Church

The Tabernacle began as an outreach extension of the New Direction Christian Church in Morristown, Tennessee.

When the garage services began, the size of the congregation hovered around 21. Last month, Pastor Pippin said close to 65 people attended.

"I was very excited, I don't think I've ever doubted that God wants us to do this. He's confirmed it over and over and over again," said Hall.

Now, as the congregation begins to grow, the Tabernacle is expanding their outreach program and running out of space. Pastor Hall said he hoped to eventually open a 24-hour house of prayer in Stanford and move the church into a new building.

"I think that's still one of our biggest struggles. We need a new building now," said Hall.

Even with a larger congregation and a new home, Mrs. Pippin said the church vision and come-as-you-are atmosphere would not change.

"We'll stay with our original focus. We're a worshipping church. I see us growing, always focusing on loving people," she said.

"I think our banner sums us up, 'Revival Fire' ... we're alive," said Pastor Hall. "In Revelations, chapter three, Jesus said, 'I rather you be hot or cold, than lukewarm' and we're hot."

Services are held in the Tabernacle, 2858 KY 150 West, at 2 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. Saturday services are at 7 p.m. in the Rivers of Life Church in Lexington. Communion is held every Sunday.

For more information, call (859)326-0607.

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