Ministry turning vacant lot into outdoor churchBy Stephen Dawkins Published 6:29pm Friday, April 4, 2014
Many people driving down Second Avenue North in downtown Clanton the past few weeks have slowed down to look at the large mural being painted on the side of the old Wadesonian Theater.
That reaction is exactly what Ralph Bingham with Through the Grace of God Ministries hoped for.
“That’s what we’re all about, is getting Jesus out there where people can see him,” Bingham said.
A local artist is covering the wall with a mural depicting the Last Supper, as part of an effort to turn a vacant lot into an outdoor church.
The vacant lot and the theater previously belonged to Fellowship Church of God. The church congregated in the theater until the building next door began to collapse in February 2013, causing both structures to be condemned.
Hearing of the church’s plight, Bingham allowed Fellowship to meet at Through the Grace of God until the church could find another home.
After about three months, Fellowship Church of God moved to a building near E.M. Henry Park.
Bishop Warren Tyus and Fellowship Church then returned the favor.
Tyus one day asked Bingham if he had a can of green beans.
“I said, ‘Yeah, we have green beans. What else do you need?’ I thought they were trying to have a meal,” Bingham said.
But Tyus only wanted one can of green beans, as “payment” for the deed to the property on Second Avenue North.
The lot next to the theater has been cleared. A concrete stage was erected at the end of the lot furthest from the road. Then, a pavilion-like cover was put up over the stage, and lighting was installed.
Wrought iron street lights line the walls, and a fence and gate will be installed at the front of the lot to match the lights.
“It is incredible,” Bingham said. “I could’ve never dreamed. We’re just doing the Lord’s work.”
In addition to hosting Through the Grace of God’s worship services when weather permits, Bingham said the site could accommodate weddings and other faith-based events.
The most impressive aspect of the project is the mural, with Jesus and his disciples looking down over the space.
The artist asked to be identified only by his Native American name, “Daum-Ho-Tay-Aun,” which means, “One with the Earth,” he said.
Bingham showed the artist the “canvas,” but the artist wasn’t sure he wanted to undertake such a large project–it’s the largest mural he’s completed, he said.
The only compensation the artist requested was for the materials. The rest he calls a “labor of love.”
After working for about three weeks, the mural should be completed in a matter of days.
However, Bingham plans more work for the site, mostly at the theater.
“Once we get everything cleared by the city, we want to go in and make it a gospel music center,” Bingham said.
Bingham credits many generous friends for helping with the project, including Eddie Hooper with All-American Steel and Jimmy Howell with Howell Steel.
“There’s been a lot of folks who have donated time and effort,” Bingham said.
Bingham encouraged residents to drive by and take a look at the project. There will be more to come.
“We’ll get this done and see what the Lord puts on us next,” he said.