Growing Seymour church launches $3 million building campaign

Project 70 Chairman Gary Huff, left, and Pastor-Elect Aaron Arrowood hold the building plans for the new facility at The Tabernacle at Sandy Creek in Seymour.

Erika Malone | The Tribune

SEYMOUR — Seventy years ago, Apostolic Pentecostal Church was started in a small house near the old Seymour Country Club on the city’s north side.

As the congregation grew, they bought and moved the church to a one-room schoolhouse near an area in Seymour known as Woodstock, calling the church Woodstock Apostolic Pentecostal Tabernacle Inc.

After moving from Woodstock, the small congregation moved into what used to be a small Methodist church at Indianapolis Avenue and Third Street in downtown Seymour. That’s when the name was shortened to The Tabernacle.

Now with more than 400 members who have settled in at a growing facility at 5707 N. Sandy Creek Drive just west of Interstate 65, the congregation is celebrating the church’s 70th anniversary with the launch of a new project.

Project 70 will address the current and future needs of the community.

Aaron Arrowood, the pastor-elect, has seen a 20% increase in new people coming into the church, and with this increase, church leaders are having to combine certain areas together in the facility. The church was established by Arrowood’s father, Larry Arrowood.

The goal for Project 70 is to raise around $3 million over the course of three years. Having community support for this project will allow the congregation to expand to meet the community’s growing needs with a new facility and be able to better focus on services they already offer, such as education, poverty assistance, family intervention, mental health, counseling, family resources and family advocacy.

“Besides spreading the gospel, we are also called to help people, especially those in need,” Project 70 chairman Gary Huff said.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census report, Indiana has seen a 4.7% increase in population since 2010. In Jackson County, there was a 159% increase in the Hispanic and multicultural population, Huff said.

He said those statistics are significant, as there has been an increase in attendance at The Tabernacle.

Huff said they are starting to see people from different countries, such as Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti and Honduras, come to The Tabernacle.

“To do all we need to do, we are expanding. The reason for this facility is to have a place where everyone can worship,” Huff said.

The new 48,000-square-foot-facility will include a sanctuary for Sunday worship and space for adult and children’s Sunday school classes. It also will include administrative offices to manage services, which will leave the existing facility with more room for the church’s parochial school, Sandy Creek Christian Academy.

On Thursdays, The Tabernacle hosts about 50 to 100 kids in its recreation area who are either playing soccer, eating or coloring all in one space.

In their existing facility and with the increasing attendance, they are having to combine some of the areas into the space they currently have. The new facility will offer more room and be a place for easier navigation for newcomers.

Once the new facility is built, more room will be open to expand the church’s recreation rooms and help fill other space needs.

“We want a place where someone can walk in and say, ‘Oh, this feels like home,’” Arrowood said.

He said he hopes the new facility will act as a safe place for those families in crisis and help them by providing a support system.

Arrowood also has been conducting his own interviews with those in the congregation on how the church and the community has helped them in preparation for the launch of Project 70.

He said he interviewed a 16-year-old boy who fell into substance use and crime at the age of 10. During the interview, the boy discussed how the church absorbed him into the community and the atmosphere helped improve his future.

Now, that boy is a leader in the community, attends Sandy Creek Christian Academy and is a drummer for their Sunday worship.

Arrowood said he is starting to see more of these success stories as they grow in a congregation.

“Watching families go from crisis to stable to productive not only in our church but in the community as well is a major accomplishment,” he said. “It’s not just us doing all of this. It’s everyone involved in the church donating and volunteering to help these people in crisis.”

Besides the launch of Project 70 and their expansion, the congregation is setting goals for the future, looking into what else might be added to the campus. With an additional 30 acres, they will add onto their campus based on the community needs. Possibilities for a community garden and recreation facilities are in discussion.

Hopeful for donations, The Tabernacle is hoping to break ground on the new facility as early as this coming spring.

The Tabernacle is hosting a community meeting at Rails Craft Brew and Eatery in downtown Seymour and inviting businesses to hear about the church’s vision and how they can help the community through donating or volunteering.

The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Jan. 27. The Tabernacle is a tax-deductible organization for businesses and individuals who would like to donate.