A grandson of Christian televangelist Kenneth Copeland is building a church in Green Mountain Falls, on a former compound for trouble adolescents.
The Rev. Jeremy Pearsons and his wife, Sarah, who together founded Pearsons Ministries International in 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas, are relocating their ministry and converting the largest building on the 151-acre site at 10460 W. U.S. 24 into Legacy Church.
Repeated requests for an interview produced an email response that reads, “As a general rule and policy we do not give interviews or take questions with media.”
The church was to have opened in the fall of 2019, according to the organization’s website, but it is not yet operational. Remodeling of the main building’s 30,000 square feet is 71% complete, the website states. The Pearsonses are campaigning to raise $100 per square foot, or $3 million, to fund the project.
The Pearsonses paid $2.295 million for the property, which includes 10 buildings including residences, offices, classrooms and dorms, according to the El Paso County Assessor’s Office.
A large sign proclaiming the land as the future Legacy Church appeared along the highway in the past few weeks.
Employees and other supporters from Texas are selling their homes and relocating to the Pikes Peak region to work at the site, Jeremy Pearsons says in a video. It is unclear how many people that is.
An old gymnasium is becoming a sanctuary for up to 500 congregants, according to an online video tour by the Pearsonses of the facility. The second level of the main building is being turned into a children’s ministry center with classrooms.
Jeremy Pearsons is the son of Terri Copeland Pearsons, the eldest daughter of Kenneth Copeland, and her husband, George Pearsons. Both are senior pastors at Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas. The church is part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, where Terri is chief of staff and her husband is the CEO.
Kenneth Copeland is credited with advancing the nation’s charismatic movement through his work as a conservative religious leader and author.
Jeremy Pearsons had worked as an outreach minister for his grandfather’s organization, often delivering televised sermons on marriage and relationships, before starting his ministry. He made headlines after his first wife, Amy Cranmer Pearsons, posted in May 2006 on her MySpace page, shortly after the couple’s divorce was finalized, that Jeremy had been “physically and emotionally abusive” throughout their marriage.
This will be Jeremy and Sarah Pearsons’ first church; their 10-year-old ministry has consisted of traveling to preach, speak and sing at churches and parachurch organizations across the country, including Andrew Wommack Ministries in Woodland Park.
Televangelist Andrew Wommack, a Teller County resident for decades, moved his ministry from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park over the past few years and continues to build a campus that is nearing $100 million in cash donations from followers for Charis Bible College, an international school for ministry studies.
While not directly connected to Charis Bible College, Wommack said Pearsons is “a friend” of the college and the ministry. Pearsons has been a guest instructor at the college and has spoken at Wommack’s Gospel Truth conferences. A key employee at Andrew Wommack Ministries, Daniel Hooley, lead project manager of the enterprise chain, is on the board of Pearsons Ministries International.
“It’s good for our whole area to have another person preaching the Gospel,” said Wommack, whose ministry does not include overseeing any churches, although he sometimes presents events at churches around the nation.
The Pearsonses, who have two children, bought a residence on the former Sturman Industries property in Woodland Park, according to the Teller County Assessor’s Office. Wommack owns most of the previous Sturman land.
“We hope that Legacy Church is a real blessing to Green Mountain Falls,” Wommack said, “and that the community welcomes him with open arms.”
Some people are concerned about another large-scale conservative Christian group moving into the area, said the Rev. Darlene Avery, pastor of Church in the Wildwood, United Church of Christ.
The only house of worship in the small mountain town of Green Mountain Falls, Church in the Wildwood was built in 1889, when the area was developing.
“We have a long and deep relationship with the community, and I think there’s absolutely nothing to fear,” Avery said. “I’m not a sectarian Christian; I welcome Christian brothers and sisters of all stripes.”
And, she said, “Our church offers a very different Christianity; we are opening and affirming of LGBTQ people and very progressive. I have a feeling our churches will attract different people.”
A locked gate bars the entrance to Legacy Church property, which was homesteaded in 1887 by a Scottish woman whose grandson, Harry Brockhurst, ran cattle. He donated the land in 1962 as a home for emotionally disturbed boys. The enterprise in 1994 became the Children’s ARK, a residential treatment program for neglected and abused teens. But a lack of state funding, coupled with problems with children running away and setting fires, and allegations of sexual abuse, led to bankruptcy and closure in 2012.
The Pearsonses have been hosting “family night” services several times a month at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park, although the last two have been canceled due to snowstorms.
“Already the church is growing, and it hasn’t begun yet,” Jeremy Pearsons says on a video on the couple’s online Legacy TV.