Pastor Heath Tinker in Kingdom Life Church’s almost-finished sanctuary / W.C. Mann
We’re closer than we’ve ever been, and our goal is to impact this community like never before.”Pastor Heath Tinker, Kingdom Life Church
SIMCOE – On Jan. 18, 2016, fire broke out in the youth and children’s building of Simcoe Worship Center Church of God at the intersection of Alabama Highway 69 and County Road 1635. The building was completely destroyed, and the adjoining main building suffered such extensive heat and smoke damage that, while it remained standing, most of its contents were lost.
“We lost pretty much everything except a few walls standing,” said Pastor Heath Tinker. Pointing to his T-shirt with a logo that simply said “Next?,” he continued, “It was a shock. Everybody began saying ‘What’s next?’ And you really wanted to fill in the blanks with what’s next.”
That was then. Fast forward a year and a half plus to Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, when The Tribune dropped in for a visit and did a doubletake upon arrival: the address was the same, but not the name. The sign and banner out front now say Kingdom Life Church. But Tinker was there, and happy to share what’s up with the church, the building and that sign.
“This coming Sunday,” shared Tinker, “we’ll dedicate the building. So, it’s been nearly two years since we’ve been here. We’re very thankful for the whole community. Once the fire came, we went to Fairview First Baptist, and Pastor David there offered us his facilities, but it was in between; it was midday services. Fairview High School- we signed a contract with them. They allowed us, through the contract, to use their auditorium for services on Sunday. Principal Chris Gambrill there helped us out tremendously. We just wanted to always help the community, and it’s amazing that the community started helping us and just impacting our lives.”
He said, “But we are back, looking forward to dedicating the building, to starting revival Sunday night.”
The youth and children’s building was not rebuilt; a gravel parking area currently marks its location on the grounds. Inside the main building, no trace of fire damage remains. The sanctuary and office areas still await carpeting, but that has not stopped the congregation from holding two services there already. New youth and children’s areas have been constructed on two floors inside the renovated main building. The children’s and nursery hall has been upgraded with security measures including self-locking doors, cameras and an intercom system for outside access. The youth rooms upstairs include a worship center, snack bar/lounge and game room.
On Sunday morning, Tinker will preside over a service of dedication for the reconstructed facility. That evening, the church will put that facility right to work, beginning a multi-night series of revival services, dubbed Encounter 2017.
“The people have been very excited, and been seeing a lot of good things happen,” the pastor said, “and we are just excited to get back on our feet, I guess you would say.”
And the name?
“We changed our name from Simcoe Worship Center to Kingdom Life Church,” explained Tinker. “Nothing wrong with the community or anything like that, but we’re a new people now. Just like when people went through hurricanes and tragedies in their own lives, it changes a lot of how they look at things.
“We went to Kingdom Life Church as our name because we want to promote it’s a lifestyle, not just a church, not a place you just come on Sunday. but really, following Christ is about your whole lifestyle, the way you live. So that’s why we went with Kingdom Life Church. When Jesus came, He preached Kingdom. John the Baptist preached Kingdom. And so we talk about the Kingdom of God and what it can do, filling purposes in your life.”
Tinker talked about how his congregation changed after the fire.
“The greatest thing to happen is that we became a family. I think that’s a goal of a lot of pastors out there, is church is a community. That’s what church is, and it’s to impact the environment around it.
“So, what happened to us is, when this tragedy came, our people got closer together. We started having a lot of house meetings on Wednesday nights- prayer meetings, started getting together on Fridays- just bringing food, fellowshipping together and inviting everybody.
“We’re closer than we’ve ever been, and our goal is to impact this community like never before.”
Simcoe Worship Center had traditional Sunday evening services; Kingdom Life Church is trying new things like fellowship activities, and reaching out to Royal Pines, the Jimmy Hale mission center in Hanceville.
“Before, we were having Sunday night services,” said Tinker, “and that’s all well and good. But how are you reaching out and showing Christ? I’ve told my people, if Jesus was walking in flesh form as He was 2,000 years ago, I believe He would be at Jimmy Hale Mission Royal Pines. I believe He’d be walking on the downtown streets in Birmingham, and He’d be there with the poor people and the hurting people. He would be at the families there that’s lost loved ones during tragedies, and not to check off your list that you went to church on Sunday.
“That’s really what’s happened: we’ve become a family, and we’ve refocused ourselves and said, ‘Okay, what can we do to affect this community? What can we do to be the church every day?’”
Sunday’s dedication service starts at 10:30 a.m., with the first revival service Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Chris Bartlett of Redemption Church is leading the first service. The other revival services from Monday through Wednesday begin at 7 p.m.
For more information about Kingdom Life Church, visit www.kingdom-life-church.org. The church is located at 4442 County Road 1635 in Cullman.
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