Bishop Tudor Bismark had hinted at the possibility earlier in the Ministers Conference when he predicted that Living Word Christian Center would be moving into a 20,000 seat auditorium and that all obstacles would be removed by the Fourth of July this summer.
Mark Muse, the director of Living Word’s Joseph Center for Business Development, said it straight out at the workshop he was leading on March 30. Living Word had outgrown its present facility on Roosevelt Road and was looking for a new site on which to build a campus for all its ministries.
Muse explained that right now the congregation needs to schedule three services in their 2,800 seat auditorium every Sunday in order to accommodate the over 6,000 people who worship there every week. Pastor Bill Winston would prefer to have the whole congregation present at one time.
In addition, Living Word and Bill Winston ministries are scattered over several sites in the near western suburbs. The offices are located at 7306 Madison Street. The auditorium, book store and Joseph Center are in the Forest Park Mall on Roosevelt Road. And the elementary day school is in Bellwood.
Muse said that though no site had as of yet been identified, Pastor Winston realized that the present site was no longer large enough and that he was in the process of looking for a new site. As far as he knew, no decisions had been made regarding Living Word’s for profit businesses in the mall or whether the mall would be put up for sale.
Winston, a native of Tuskegee, Ala., started his ministry in 1989 with a congregation of 12. As the congregation grew, he began the process of converting the Forest Park Mall into a “one stop shop for the spirit, soul and body.”
In recent months, this has included the November opening of David Samuel, a high end clothing store, which joined establishments such as the Royal Christian Bookstore and Ultra Foods grocery store in the revitalized mall. Winston has said he will open New Covenant Community Bank in 2006 and a health care clinic geared toward uninsured or underinsured people who need basic medical treatment in the near future.
The Joseph Center, which has operated in the lower level of the mall since 1998, provides nine-week courses in business administration as well as an “incubator” program which allows students to rent office space at a nominal fee for up to two years and offers secretarial support and business consultation through the center while attempting to get their business off the ground.