Residents across eastern Oklahoma are celebrating Easter. The News On 6â€™s Chris Wright reports one of Tulsa's largest congregations marked the holiday in their new, multi-million dollar auditorium.
The tomb may have been empty Sunday, but the seats inside the new Victory Christian Center Auditorium certainly were not. A near-capacity crowd filed into the 11:30 a.m. Sunday service, the second of three on Easter.
After four years of construction, the auditorium was opened last month. Victory Christian hopes the new building will help expand its congregation.
"We built it so we could grow,â€ said Florence Wells of Victory Christian Church. â€œI think that's already beginning to happen."
And the unseasonably cold weather didn't dampen the turnout for the first Easter services at the new facility. The church estimates about 19,000 people showed up for services.
Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty greeted everyone before a performance of 'He Is Alive,' an elaborate passion play. More than 200 cast members acted out the trial, suffering, death and ascension of Jesus.
It took five days just to assemble the set, and the performance took full advantage of the auditorium's state of the art sound and video systems.
"They started setting it up on Monday, and then we've had practices from 5 until 10 o'clock, midnight some nights," Youth Pastor John Daugherty said.
In past years, the play was held at the Mabee Center, but the new auditorium can accommodate both the production and the crowds. Parishioners hope the Easter services will become a new tradition, and usher in an era of continued expansion for Victory Christian.
"It's very exciting to us,â€ said Wells. â€œWhether you're young or old, it's a really exciting time for most of these people."
Construction costs for the auditorium were paid for by the congregation, entirely in cash, meaning Victory Christian is debt free.
3/4/2007 Tulsa Place Of Worship Grows With Congregation