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More than light in city now

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By Jenny Hartley

INDIAN LAND - Employees are moving in, and a new building is under construction at Inspiration Ministries' City of Light campus on U.S. 521.

About 300 people will move into the completed WorldReach Center, a 118,029-square-foot headquarters building, over the next few weeks, said John Roos, senior vice president of corporate communications and research for Inspiration Ministries.

"That was our greatest need," Roos said of the facility that centralizes the ministries' corporate employees. "We have two production centers and employees in 11 different buildings. We're paying rent at other buildings."

The campus will be home to Inspiration Networks, which includes four television networks capable of reaching worldwide audiences, a broadband Web site and global outreach in many different languages.

The 300 or so employees are moving to the Indian Land campus from five or six different buildings in the Charlotte area. The move should be finished by the end of March, Roos said.

The production center will not move from Charlotte during this first phase of development, Roos said.

Prayer center under way

Ground broke on the prayer center in November, and steel beams are now rising up from the red clay near the entrance of the campus. About 40 people will work at the prayer center, which will act as a call center for prayer requests around the world, including Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Requests may come from callers ranging from a frightened child, someone contemplating suicide or from someone concerned about a sick family member.

The prayer center will also be home to a coffee shop and bookstore open to the public. It should be complete at the end of the year or early 2009. The ministries will celebrate the completion of phase 1 of the project after the prayer center is finished, Roos said.

Seven spires at the entrance of the campus are also under construction. The spires signify the seven continents and symbolize things from the Bible, which includes many references to the number seven, considered by many as the symbol of completion or the perfect number.

"These seven shafts of light symbolize our commitment to all people, and to bring the light to every nation and every continent," said David Cerullo, chairman and CEO of Inspiration Ministries, in a press release. "This kind of symbolism is one of the deep things about the Christian faith.

"God does not do anything by accident. Similarly, we want the people who work in and visit the City of Light to sense that this is not just a campus filled with buildings. It is a place with vision and purpose written into the very fabric of the design."

Inspiration Ministries has a 10-year plan for construction of the campus, which also includes the construction of a production center during phase 2. This will be the main attraction of the campus, where Christian seminars, TV shows and concerts will be produced.

Plans are also in the works for a 500-unit condominium complex.

Education opportunities

Lancaster County Economic Development Corp. President Keith Tunnell said he expects to meet with Inspiration Networks officials in coming weeks about the ministries starting a cooperative program with Lancaster County School District and York Technical College, to help students learn broadcasting skills.

A vocation program with the ministries could create a "stable" of students who could later go on to work for the networks after high school or college.

"This could take these kids to the next level," Tunnell said.

The Inspiration Networks is also slated to work with Lancaster County on creating video marketing materials for the county, Tunnell said.

The ministries will also work with the local office of the S.C. Employment Security Commission when posting jobs available at Inspiration Networks.

Contact Jenny Hartley at 283-1151 or jhartley@thelancasternews.com