The Rev. Brad Allison will soon be preaching sermons in a movie theater.
The popcorn machine will be gone, of course -- no munching during the homily. The ticket booth won't be there, either -- digging deep into the wallet won't be necessary to see this show. But a donation in the collection plate will be appreciated.
Los Angeles-based General Cinemas couldn't afford to keep the county's last two-screen cinema going two years ago -- so it sold the place to the Glen Burnie Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Now, the congregation can move from a rented room in a school to a more permanent home.
Who cares if people once flocked to the Harundale Cinema, located just behind the mall, to see "Star Wars," "E.T." or "Superman?" Come August, two years after the theater closed, a bigger production will begin its run.
"It is an uncommon building for a church," conceded Allison, the church's pastor. "But I think it will adapt very nicely. It will be so nice to get into a permanent facility. We've been nomads for six years.
"It is a well-known location. People who have lived in Glen Burnie for years can remember seeing a movie there."
The church, which now conducts services for its 220 parishioners at Richard Henry Lee Elementary in Glen Burnie, hopes to move into its new home this coming August.
The building, in the 800 block of Aquahart Road, went up for sale in July. The asking price was $520,000. David Walker, a member of the pastoral staff, said the church will close the deal tomorrow.
Much work needs to be done to make the square cinder-block building look like a place of worship, however.
Walker said the church will be able to hold about 600 people and have enough room for offices and a day care center. He also said that a pitched roof will be built over the awning running around the building and a bell tower will be added on one corner.
The building is two stories tall and has about 1,600 square feet of space. Walker said the church will delay renovating the upstairs for the time being because to open it they need to make it handicapped accessible and they don't have enough money for elevators.
Walker said construction and renovation costs could run as high as $1 million. But he said the parishioners voted unanimously to buy the building so the congregation could have a church to call its own.
"It's hard to get that many people to agree on anything," he said.
The two most expensive construction projects, Allison said, will be leveling the floor and installing new heating and air conditioning systems.
He said the church offices will be where the concession stand is now and the theater seats will have to be replaced with pews.
One regret Allison has is that the Harundale Mall manager took down the marquee outside the mall -- no ads in neon for this congregation.
"But someone suggested we leave the concession stand and sell Raisinettes and Goobers," he said.