Visiting Our Heritage

On Saturday [back in January], Countess and I decided to go visit the remnants of Heritage USA down in Fort Mill, SC. It is located just south of the border between North and South Carolina. After Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker’s PTL Club went into bankruptcy in 1987, the site was mostly abandoned for about 20 years.

The Christian convention center and hotel is still active under different ownership, but the majority of the 2,300 acre site was sold off for developing condos and tract homes.

The 21 story Heritage Tower – that was going to provide 165,000 PTL members who paid $1,000 for an annual free 3 night vacation for the rest of their lives – has never been completed, and has been the subject of an ongoing fight with the city of Fort Mill – the city believes the building needs to be torn down as it is unsafe and the Owners cannot prove that the defects can be repaired.

While walking through the building that houses the Grand Ballroom, we noticed a row of pictures of evangelical leaders with a connection to Heritage International, the successor to Heritage USA. Curiously, despite everything that happened, Jim Bakker’s picture is on the wall

And this descriptive plaque:

With an ironic twist, the facility was hosting a training seminar concerning how to deal with sexual misconduct…

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2 Responses to Visiting Our Heritage

  1. JayMar says:

    I remember Heritage USA and the Upper Room. My ex-wife was a Jim and Tammy drone and would send them money very, very often. I remember this little pewter statue (probably $20-$25 cost) they would send to anyone contributing $1000. My ex had three of those. I truly hated the Bakkers, I could see through their professed Christianity. They were as fake as a $3 bill, but the lemmings kept them living like kings with gold (real gold) faucets in they mansions. It’s hard to believe that Bakker after he was released from prison was allowed to go back to preaching. Today he is worth half a million dollars. Not bad at all for not working, just contributions?

    • Fred Stiening says:

      Our next door neighbor in Statesville was a woman probably in her 70s. I cut her grass a few times but it was a huge yard. She had an electronic organ in her living room which I played for her.

      She ended up contributing money she could not afford to PTL. She was partly responsible for something that damaged my relationship with my parents. While I sang in the Presbyterian church choir (the director also directed the choir at school), I was pretty clear to my parents that I was not a Christian and that was not going to change.

      Our neighbor invited us to go to a revival service in a small church out in the country. Being too young to live away from my parents, I acquiesced to going. I figured I would just sit in the pew dayreaming about prime numbers while the preacher rehashed one of the five Bible stories they know. What I didn’t know was the routine of the revivals is an altar call in which each row files out one row at a time to reiterate your status as a Christian, or the big hope is that some wayward young person would see the error of his ways and be added on the toteboard of souls saved.

      On the way home, I face the inevitable question. I’m pretty sure I reiterated my opinion to my parents and made it clear that I never would allow myself to be put in that situation again. That was the end of my grass cutting job. Religion is a fundamental part of community life in the South that you can’t avoid unless you live in a city like Charlotte.

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