By JOHN FORTMEYER
SALEM — The leadership of Salem House of Prayer has long believed the ministry’s location downtown is very significant spiritually. That belief intensified about four years ago when the ministry moved from leased space at 260 Liberty St. N.E., going next door to lease a recently closed bar at 248 Liberty — more than symbolically changing the character of the area.
But a possible sale of that building to a separate party has raised questions about the prayer ministry’s future at that site, and so —anticipating God’s firm answer — a fundraising campaign is taking place to allow the ministry to purchase the property outright.
The Love Never Ends campaign fund began in April, with an ultimate goal of raising $720,000 for Salem House of Prayer to buy the building. At minimum, however, it aims to at least raise $100,000 as a down payment on the property, said Jim Moore, the ministry’s founding director.
Modeled after the famed International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo., the Salem House of Prayer was established in 2004 as a citywide, multi-denominational, worship and intercessory ministry in Salem and the surrounding area. It is a focal point for local churches to come together in unity and pray for revival in the city.
For years, however, the ministry bounced around a wide range of locations before eventually landing on Liberty Street.
Since 2011, Salem House of Prayer has invested an estimated $300,000 in both donated and purchased labor and materials into the current location, according to Moore. In addition to holding thousands of hours of prayer and other forms of local outreach, the ministry also in recent years operated Cafe Shine there. Although the cafe is temporarily not open because of financial constraints, the ministry fully intends to reopen it soon, said Moore.
Moore said clerical oversights regarding the current location have miraculously provided a short window of time in which Salem House of Prayer can exercise its right as the tenant to match the other offer and buy the 13,000 square-foot building.
A large, sacrificial and unexpected gift by one supporter of the ministry helped Salem House of Prayer put down $10,000 as earnest money. But unless enough is raised as a down payment by July 10, the ministry board will have to decide whether to put additional earnest money down and aim at a new fundraising target date.
Special events, including an auction, have taken place in recent weeks to boost the campaign. A big potential step occurred in late June, when a couple offered a matching fund gift of $100,000, contingent on the sale of their home, said Moore. To fulfill that matching gift, the ministry seeks 100 people who each will pledge $1,000. Already 30 have come forward.
Moore said he and the ministry’s board are “very much at peace, not anxious, not worried” about the fundraising effort and strongly anticipate that God will meet the need in His time.
“We know that God has His people out there who care enough about this type of work,” he said.
Moore noted an interesting historical point — that the building once housed Nopp’s Golden Pheasant restaurant and for years was a gathering place for state leaders, to the point that it was considered almost an unofficial second Capitol.
“We believe the fact that it is so centrally located and so close to the Capitol building is not an accident,” said Moore.
For more on the campaign, phone 503-589-9176 or go to salemhouseofprayer.org/love-never-ends.html