MIAMI — Pastor Amos Allen and members of the Apostolic Revival Temple in Overtown got their prayers answered on Tuesday when a judge granted their motion to stay the demolition of their building.
The church will remain standing, at least for several days.
Allen, however, is hoping that the temporary stay can be made permanent.
“I don’t want to go, because I’ve been here for 14 years, so the church and the neighborhood are very sentimental to me. Half of my members are right here in the community,” Allen said.
Though he knew the city wanted to knock down the vacant space in the same building right next door because it’s a magnet for drug dealers, Allen said it wasn’t until Feb. 22 that he was informed of the city of Miami’s plans to demolish the entire building.
“Lots of people are saying that the drug hole is in the church, but that’s not true. The church is separate.
They don’t have to knock down the church too,” Allen said.
The church, located at 1028 NW Second Ave., needs a lot of work. The building in which it is housed has been standing for 87 years. During Allen’s tenure as pastor, the church has gained a reputation for helping drug addicts, drug dealers and the homeless transform their lives.
Now, members say it’s time for the community to return the favor and help Allen save his church.
“This church has saved my life,” said Alfred Castro, a former drug addict who attends Allen’s church.
Although they are only living on a Social Security income, Castro and his wife, Maria Lanzot donated $200 Wednesday morning to help with repairs.
“We’ve been members for two years, and he’s a great pastor. We’re here to help and do whatever we can to save this church. I am pleading with the community to come out and do whatever they can to help out,” Castro continued.
Lanzot agreed with her husband.
“Pastor Allen is awesome. He’ll pray for anyone who comes to his church. My husband was a crack head, and Pastor Allen didn’t care. He prayed for him and now my husband is clean. To God be the glory,” Lanzot said.
“He’s trying to help the people, but the people don’t want to help him. We don’t have a whole lot of money, but a donation is a donation. If they’re going to tear down his church, they should give him a new one. But if they say this is historical Overtown, why not restore it?” she continued.
Though the Tuesday, March 2 hearing temporarily stayed the demolition, no one is allowed to enter the building. For now, Allen and his members will have Sunday and Wednesday services across the street at the city of Miami Mini Park on Second Avenue between 10th and 11th streets. Friday night services will be canceled.
“We’re going to be at the park, feeding and clothing people, and having services. You don’t stay anywhere for 14 years and be told you have to pick up and leave and not miss it. I need a church,” Allen said.