From humble beginnings a church arises
By Bob Okon email@example.com November 21, 2012 4:26PM
Pastor Warren Dorris is seen in the auditorium at Prayer Tower Ministries Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, at 500 Stryker Ave. in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 24, 2012 7:08AM
JOLIET — It won’t be hard for Pastor Warren Dorris and members of Prayer Tower Ministries church to look back and be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
The church is moving into its new building this weekend — one with seating for 1,500, high-tech sound system and video, and even a coffee bar for those who might want to watch the service on TV in a cafe-style setting.
Not bad when looking back at the Joliet church’s humble beginnings.
“You’re talking about a church that came out of a borrowed tent in Lockport 60 years ago,” Dorris said.
More recently, the church was on Cass Street in Joliet. It’s been on a pilgrimage of sorts over the past year, holding services at a temporary locations after selling the Cass Street property and using the proceeds to help build the new church.
Which leads to something else to be thankful for, Dorris said.
No church member has died in the past year — something remarkable in itself, he said. But it’s especially gratifying now.
“We’ve been so grateful and thankful to the Lord that all the members who left Cass Street are going to be able to come here to this new church,” Dorris said.
Prayer Tower Ministries is part of Prayer Tower Church of God in Christ, which is the largest Pentecostal church in the United States and has churches in nearly 60 countries. The local congregation now has 550 members.
The Dorris family has been part of the church’s modest beginnings and growth. Dorris’s father Warren Sr. and Uncle Robert were founders and pastors of the church in Joliet.
The new 25,800-square-foot church building stands at the south end of Stryker Avenue and right along Interstate 80. For years, highway motorists noticed the large steel frame of a building never finished. Another church started to build there in the 1990s but ran out of money.
Prayer Tower Ministries acquired the property three years ago and built from the existing foundation and steel beams.
With the exposure to the elements over the years, it wasn’t certain that the existing steel could be used, said Robert Williams, whose company, Progressive Management Inc. in Lisle, has been the general contractor on the job.
“We had an independent structural engineering company test the steel, and remarkably it was in good condition,” Williams said.
Maybe God was looking over the place. Williams, whose company only builds churches and does it across the country, said working on the Prayer Tower Ministries job “has been a blessing to me.”
It has gotten notice.
Instead of seeing bare steel girders on the site, I-80 motorists now get an interesting glimpse of the church when lit at night. The church tower rises into the sky and two crosses line up on the side of the building.
“People have been coming off the interstate and going on tours,” Dorris said. “It’s been wonderful. When you see it at night, it’s phenomenal.”
Dorris wants more people stop by. His church has been delivering literature east and west along Interstate 80, hoping to attract more members.
The church also plans to add services for nonmembers. Prayer Tower Ministries will provide tutoring for students, marriage counseling for couples, and other services offered to the community at large.
Dorris, a longtime Joliet city councilman who gave up the post in 2011 when he made an unsuccessful run for mayor, said he sees the church expanding in its new home. But while the congregation is thankful for the new church building, Dorris said he wants it to be a blessing for others, too.
“This is going to be a ministry for the entire community,” Dorris said. “We want people to be here every day. This church is a community church.”