From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2008)|
Carpenter's Home Church was a prominent Assemblies of God megachurch in Lakeland, Florida. At its peak, the charismatic church claimed 5,000 attendees. The church closed amidst financial scandal and dwindling membership. The property was purchased by Without Walls International Church of Tampa, Florida, and the facility became the home of Without Walls Central, an affiliate church of Without Walls International Church. The remaining congregation continued to meet as two separate congregations.
The Carpenter's Home Church, originally known as the "Carpenters and Joiners Home," was dedicated in October 1928 as a retirement home for members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. The first 36 retired carpenters and joiners moved in during March 1929, and as many as 370 retirees stayed at one time. With the advent of Social Security, the number of retirees living in the home began to decline. By 1976, the home closed. In 1980, the property was purchased by the First Assembly of God Church and renamed the Carpenter's Home Church.
Karl D. Strader was founder and senior pastor. The main auditorium was built by Roe Messner and seats 10,000 people. Many contemporary Christian artists performed at the church, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, The Newsboys, Plus One, Skillet, Audio Adrenaline, OC Supertones, TobyMac, Petra, and Zoegirl, among others. The property contains a full-sized football field and parochial school. It owned and operated Evangel Christian School from 1972 through 2005. Victory Church, an Assemblies of God church that included a number of former Carpenter's Home members, absorbed many of Evangel's students. While in operation, the school ran a FM radio station, WCIE, that served the Tampa Bay market; the station was sold to Moody Broadcasting in 1997.
The church closed after attendance dwindled to 1000 making it impossible to maintain its large facilities. A large part of the loss in membership can be attributed to a financial scam perpetrated by Karl Strader's son Daniel, who stole $3 million from investors, mostly from Carpenter's Home Church members; Daniel was convicted in 1994 and is serving a 45 year term.
The remaining members of Carpenter's Home Church now meet in two smaller churches: Ignited Church pastored by Stephen R. Strader, Karl Strader's son, which built a new facility a mile north of the old building on US-98, and Auburndale Life Church, pastored by Karl Strader's son-in-law Shane Simmons, which is in Without Walls International Church's former Polk County facility in neighboring Auburndale.
Carpenter's Home Church and its successor entities have been associated with two prominent revivals. A 1993 revival by South African-born evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne helped spread a "Laughing revival" with manifestations of joy in the Holy Spirit; the Toronto Blessing movement is as an offshoot of the spiritual awakening that Howard-Browne started at his Lakeland Revival. Howard-Browne's revival lasted for 16 weeks at Carpenter's Home, often holding two services a day and averaging 3,000 to 4,000 visitors at night.