Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gospel Tabernacle Featured In Newspaper Story

Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle accepting applications

(March 22, 2008) -- A Coudersport church that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary has some big news to report as it embarks on its second half-century of service.

Not only is the Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle close to opening its massive new sanctuary along Rt. 6 on the west side of town, the organization has also launched one of its most ambitious projects ever- the Coudersport Bible Institute (CBI).

CBI is now accepting students for its maiden voyage, as an extension of the Gospel Tabernacle's ministry, which already stretches across the globe.

It's a testimony to the dedication and faith of the church's patriarch, the Rev. David Minor Sr. The 81-year-old senior pastor traces his roots to parents of modest means, Cecil and Sophia Minor, who moved from Long Island, N.Y., to the mountains of Potter County, where they purchased a small grocery store and began prayer services.

Their son David and his wife, Lorraine, arrived in 1957 and a small church was established.

Coudersport's religious setting at the time was typical of a small town, with a thriving Catholic church and many traditional Protestant organizations.

The Gospel Tabernacle, with its fundamentalist and charismatic essence, was different. Many approached it as a novelty. Their curiosity was piqued when, in the 1960s, the Tabernacle brought its religious services to the courthouse square during the summer months.

Open declarations of faith, personal testimony, lively music and other aspects of the worship services were unsettling to many local traditionalists.

Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle openly welcomed people of faith from all walks of life. Some who suffered from drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence or economic stresses found open arms.

As the congregation grew through the 1970s into the '80s, the church at North West and Water streets - formerly the American Legion Post 192 headquarters - could no longer accommodate worship services.

The church acquired a large lot bordered by Rt. 6 and Dingman Run Road and began construction of a new worship hall. Other facilities, ranging from a recreation center, dining hall, classrooms and a separate senior apartment complex, would follow.

All the while, the Gospel Tabernacle congregation grew and the ministry extended, connecting with other evangelical fundamentalists. The church also operates an adoption program and supports three orphanages and several churches in Romania. A print ministry and television outreach are also in place.

The impending opening of the Coudersport Bible Institute is fulfillment of a vision that Rev. Minor had almost two decades ago. In fact, the current sanctuary was constructed in a way that would accommodate easy conversion to classrooms and other facilities for the Bible college.

Leaders of the Gospel Tabernacle are excited about the new church building, built at a cost of less than $1 million despite having a far higher value, due to volunteer help provided by congregation members. Seating capacity is being expanded by about 300. Rev. Minor pointed out that the new sanctuary will accommodate both worship services and fullfledged religious and theatrical productions.

CBI offers two Christian Thought degrees: a bachelor of arts and an associate of arts in Christian Thought. Eventually, the school will seek accreditation, but for now none of the courses are accredited.

The bachelor degree is based on the completion of 120 credit hours and the presentation of a 40-page paper as outlined in the fourth-year curriculum. Emphasis is on ministerial goals such as pastoral studies, Christian education and missions.

The associate degree is based on the completion of 60 credit hours and a 20-page paper as outlined in the two-year curriculum. This degree is offered to those who are interested primarily in cultural advantages and opportunities afforded by a general education in the context of comprehensive Biblical world view.

Applicants must be high school graduates with a satisfactory record of achievement or holders of a GED certifi- cate.

"CBI is specifically a Christian education ministry with the primary purpose of training individuals that recognize the call of God on their lives," according to the organization's website. "All applicants are required to give testimony of their personal salvation experience and their understanding of the new birth."

The institute is supported by donations of friends, affiliated churches, and the Gospel Tabernacle congregation. Tuition is $500 per semester.

Initially, students will be housed in private homes and apartments. Meals will be available at the campus cafeteria and the students' living quarters.

Students will be assigned service responsibilities, mentored by elder members of the church, and will participate in outreach and evangelistic programs throughout the year. These could range from mission trips to Romania, tract printing with Open Door Ministry, Rock Solid Youth Group, Challenge Team Suicide and Drug Prevention Program, Flag Team, Youth Choir, Drama Team, Youth Band, Christian TV production, children ministries and nursery, prison ministry, hospital visitation and others.

"At CBI, you will find a diverse group of faculty and staff that exemplify Christ-like character and integrity," the institute reports on its website. "Our teachers are not only educated, but seasoned ministers of the Gospel for many years in the areas of evangelism, missions, and pastoral ministries. Our main objective in teaching today's youth encompasses leading a spiritual life, being taught by the spirit, discipleship and impartation."

Rev. Minor is chancellor and founder. He is a 1949 graduate of Zion Bible Institute with a degree in theology.

President of CBI is Rev. Lou Bartolotti, a teacher and a pastor who has served in eight churches over the past 26 years. Before entering the ministry, he taught in a New York public school for 14 years. In 1982, he was instrumental in founding a Christian school on Long Island.

Rev. Bartolotti's affiliation with the Coudersport Gospel Tabernacle dates back to 1979. He has since ministered at churches in the U.S., Philippine Islands, Honduras, Haiti and Romania.

Rev. Lawrence Blades is dean of academic and business affairs. He is the founder and pastor of the New Covenant Church in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and the Gospel Fellowship in Belmont, N.Y. His affiliation with Rev. Minor also dates back to the 1970s.

Rev. Janet Kreis is director of church ministries. She is an evangelist with more than 30 years' experience and has conducted seminars on family ministries, raising moral children and strengthening relationships. She holds dual masters degrees in religion and theological studies from Liberty University and Logos Bible Institute, respectively.

They are joined by a resident faculty that includes Rev. David Minor Jr., Rev. Lynn Geiser, Rev. Patrick Lyons, Rev. Phillip Cappuccio, Rev. Susan Kefover, Rev. Larry Richter, attorney Stephen Minor and Ellen Shinn.

Faces of the Tabernacle thanks the Endeavor News for allowing us to republish this article here.

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James Jones--Publisher
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