Without question, this Friday night is a BIG night for us at Harvest. The City is putting a bandstand in Martin Luther Plaza, directly in front of the Rex Theatre, for our worship team to play from 6 to 9 at Gallery Night.
This past December, our church closed on the purchase of this incredible theater in the heart of downtown Pensacola. But there is a great story behind it that most people do not know.
Back in 1998, 15 years ago, when Harvest had just barely started, I was driving all through the city, praying, asking God where we should be. As I drove, I felt drawn to downtown. At that time, downtown was dead, but that is where I felt led to. As I passed the Rex Theatre, long abandoned, I felt my heart leap. I parked and walked around it, and felt the Holy Spirit's presence strongly. I layed hands on its doors and claimed it for Harvest, for the glory of God and His work in our city.
The next week, I contacted the owner. We worked out a deal, but at the last minute it all fell apart. I was so disappointed, as I really felt God had been in us getting that property.
I licked my wounds and we moved on. In 2003, we purchased the Plaza Theater off Fairfield and were in it all of 18 months before Hurricane Ivan destroyed it. From that point, we have mainly been at the Rave/Carmike Theater, having redone our offices at the Plaza and having that as a meeting place outside of Sundays.
Fast forward to this past June. In the last 15 years since I made the initial offer, the Rex has gone through 3 different owners. Each had big plans, each made repairs, but never finished it out. One afternoon, Pastor Roger and I, after a staff meeting where our staff stated that of all the places we would want to be, we would want to be downtown (as it has been undergoing major change and has become THE place to be in Pensacola), decided to drive around downtown and look around. As we took a left off Garden onto Palafox, we noticed a small For Sale By Owner sign in the Rex window.
Rog immediately called the number and began to talk to the owner. As he was talking, I went out front and remembered back to laying hands on it 15 years before and claiming it. I had totally forgotten about that whole thing. Could it be...??
Long story short, the owner, unbeknownsts to us, had been attending Harvest. He worked a great deal for us. We now own it free and clear and are raising money to renovate it, as well as down the road, the Plaza Theater that we own as well!
God's timing and our timing are totally different. We paid the same price I offered 15 years ago, but now it has a brand new roof and is cleaned out, saving us well over 100,000 dollars. God's "no's" are often for a very good reason.
Come out and join us tomorrow night! Hope to see you there. And oh yeah, bring a lawnchair!