BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The massive tent that's turning heads by Exit 140 on I-40 in Alamance County is back. Tent revival is starting up again in Burlington and organizers say it's going to be bigger than ever.
CT Townsend Ministries runs the services with help from local churches and volunteers. Last summer the services drew in thousands of worshippers from across the country. It was only supposed to last one week, but services went on for about four months because of the popularity. Services ended when the tent they were renting had to move to another event.
Since then, the ministry has been raising funds for its own tent and purchased one for the latest effort in Burlington. They're slated to be up and running May 1-12, but its possible they could run longer.
"We don't want to put God in a box," explains Thad Stovall. "We don't want to limit Him. We want to see Him do great and mighty things, even mightier than they did last year."
Stovall helps to make sure the tent is as safe and as weather-proof as possible. He says they learned a lot during a rainstorm last year and have worked to make sure water doesn't get into the tent this year, starting with a moat around the outside.
"A couple of local guys helped us design that here in town and it's about the best way we can move the water away," Stovall explains.
Additionally, there are poles inside and outside the tent staked down to ensure it doesn't fly up if there's wind. There are also flaps that can come down to keep the inside of the tent dry. The tent company says it should be able to withstand winds up to 120 mph.
If there's lightning, Stovall says attendees will have to go to their cars to wait out the storm. He says there's about 20-25 people on hand to help with crowd control and are trained to get people out as safely and as quickly as possible.
Services will be weeknights at 7:30 p.m. through at least May 1-12. The new tent can hold up to 3,000 chairs with opportunities for overflow outside if the weather is nice.