The Rev. Robert E. Saylor is ministering through his church in the former Wellman Theater.
By D.A. WILKINSON
VINDICATOR RELIGION EDITOR
GIRARD -- The Rev. Robert E. Saylor recalled going regularly to the movie theater in his hometown.
"When I was 7 or 8, there were cartoons every Saturday," he said.
Now the Rev. Mr. Saylor goes to the same theater on Sundays and other days.
He's started his new church in the former Wellman Theater at 29 W. Liberty St.
The marquee states, "Faith Center of World Ministries."
Services are at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The youth program is Thursdays and Bible study is Wednesdays, both at 7 p.m.
Mr. Saylor said he had heard a prophetic word that the building would be the site of something big.
After the theater was sold to a chain, it contained several businesses, including a porn theater, according to the minister.
Now, he and his wife, Beth, are even considering trying to show family movies in the theater. They said they have contacted several large ministries to replace the outdated projectors.
Recently, a martial-arts academy was housed in the building. The seats in the front of the theater had been replaced with a large stage for the karate students. Now the platform serves as a spacious area for the Saylors and the musicians. Still, the theater has seating for 180 people.
The screen has been replaced by a huge wooden cross. But the acoustics designed to let audiences hear every word remain the same. Beth Saylor said the church music sounds divine.
When the couple began renting the theater, it was packed full of clothes for a mission drive.
But the Saylors are trying to reach out to the community.
"Children need something in this area," Mr. Saylor said.
Keith Youngblood of Niles is the church's music and youth minister. He conducted auditions for the church band and attracts musically inclined youths.
"Their heart is to play in church," Youngblood said.
Since the church opened several weeks ago, attendance has been building. Mr. Saylor said those attending come from "all different faiths."
To reach out to the community, the church plans a series of events. The Rev. Phil Morgan from Decatur, Ala., will speak at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday.
There will be other speakers at revival services at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
There will also be a giveaway of food and children's clothing from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday. And there will be a dinner after the 10:30 a.m. service Aug. 25.
His faith and ministry
Licensed through World Evangelistic Outreach Inc. in Lewisville, Texas, Mr. Saylor has spent his career working with area ministries and starting churches in the United States and Europe.
Mr. Saylor came to his faith the hard way.
He was seriously injured in an industrial accident and had to undergo surgeries to repair the damage.
During one operation in 1966 at St. Elizabeth Medical Center, Mr. Saylor said, he was medically dead.
"I was walking with Jesus," the pastor said.
The pastor said he wasn't allowed to stay, but rather had to come back to the land of the living.
Mr. Saylor said he still suffers pain from his injuries but is reminded of the Scripture, "My grace is sufficient."
The pain is worse on some days, but "the more pain, the closer I walk with Jesus, and he takes care of it," Mr. Saylor said.