For 10 years after first launching in 1991, Revelation Outreach Ministry did not have its own permanent home.
Church services took place at a downtown hotel, recalled the ministry’s founder and pastor, Arnella Elizabeth Pierce. But for much of its first decade, the church was a virtual nomad.
The hotel the congregation used would undergo a renovation that would force the members to move. It would not be until 2003, however, that Revelation Ministry would find a permanent home in Austin.
This year marks the congregation’s 20th anniversary and several activities are planned for later this month.
“I knew that eventually we would open a church of our own,” Pierce said. “It was frustrating to always be bouncing around from one location to another, but the church members stayed with us and I am very grateful for that.”
The congregation currently totals 300.
A weekend of activities is scheduled from Friday July 22 to that Sunday’s service on the 24th. The ministry officially began in July of ’91 with the Marriot Hotel in Chicago as its first location. Pierce, a divorced mother of two, was a ‘spiritual advisor’ at the time.
“I would offer council to clients on a one-on-one basis,” she recalled. “Then a friend of mine, Amy Axelrod, who was a catering manager at a Holiday Inn, suggested I start a ministry. She thought it would be easier and more convenient for myself and my clients. I thought she was right.”
Axelrod already knew the catering manager for the Marriott and that connection led to Pierce setting up a small church at the hotel-she called it Revelation Outreach Ministry.
The congregation was there for eight years before having to move again when the Marriot underwent a significant architectural change. After that, for about a year, services took place at University of Illinois at Chicago’s Behavioral Sciences Building. Revelation Ministry would move yet again to the Chicago House of Prayer, where it stayed for two years.
The congregation was later kicked out of their next location, a Lutheran church on the North Side, in 2003.
“After a service, the head reverend complained to me about the noise from the church members,” Pierce recalled. “He referred to it as ‘running in place.’ He felt that the demonstrative nature of our services was not a good fit with the church and told us to leave.”
Following the unceremonious split with the Lutheran church, Pierce found the ministry’s current location at 127 N. Leamington.
Despite the various moves, longtime church member Kimberly Artis believes those early struggles actually brought the congregation together.
“I truly believe that it made us a stronger church and contributed to our ability to stay open for 20 years,” Artis, the church’s minister of music, said. “I feel that everything happens for a reason, and getting dismissed from the Lutheran church, which seemed like a bad thing at the time, set the stage for us obtaining our own location. It was a blessing.”
Through Pierce’s spiritual mentoring around the country and overseas, the church’s followers are estimated in the thousands, according to the pastor. The ministry also hosts “non-church” events, including jazz concerts, plays and poetry nights. This, according to Artis, has allowed the church to gain a reputation as a “multipurpose facility.”
“Our plan for the future is to expand,” she said. “With the growth of our church we are going to need more space for members.”