Members of Sunnyland’s Lighthouse Tabernacle Church have not had a church to call their own since a fire destroyed the congregation’s former home on Loren Street in August 2005.



Following the blaze, members of the church began to meet each week in the former Nimmo Hardware Store, an old one-room building.


Members of Sunnyland’s Lighthouse Tabernacle Church have not had a church to call their own since a fire destroyed the congregation’s former home on Loren Street in August 2005.

Following the blaze, members of the church began to meet each week in the former Nimmo Hardware Store, an old one-room building.

About three months ago, they began sharing the facilities at Last Harvest Ministry, an East Peoria church. Services for Lighthouse Tabernacle Church are currently at 1 p.m. Sundays and 7 p.m. Wednesdays at 223 Leadley Ave.

However, a new home for the congregation is in the works. Pastor Lester “Lucky” Meadows said work on a new church is about 50 percent complete.

He said he hopes the new church, which is located at 2322 Washington Road, will be complete within a year.

“We’re paying cash as we go,” he said. “We’re debt-free as of now, but things move a little slower that way.”

Meadows said that the actual cost for the church will be $350,000 to $400,000. It will include a sanctuary, fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms.

To raise money for the construction of a new church, Meadows said fundraisers have been held at local businesses, such as the church’s soon-to-be neighbor, the Ice Cream Shack.

“They’ve been very good to us,” Meadows said, adding that they raised $670 during the one-night fundraiser in which the Ice Cream Shack donated a portion of their profit.

Fundraisers have also been at Sonic in East Peoria and Sol Azteca in Washington. A church sale is scheduled for Thursday through Saturday at the new building to raise money.

Lighthouse Tabernacle Church was founded by John Taylor in 1979. After Taylor’s death in 1989, his father, Jack, was pastor until Meadows took over in 2000. The fire, which left the congregation without a place to worship, was ruled arson by East Peoria fire investigators. Meadows said he had not heard of anybody being caught in connection with the fire.

While Meadows said he has been grateful to have a place for his congregation to meet, he is looking forward to having a facility that he and Lighthouse Tabernacle’s 40 members can finally call home.

“It will give us an opportunity to grow and do more outreach for the community,” he said. “It’ll be a better light in our community.”