Evangelist accepts $9.5 million donated building for youth pastor training center – AL.com

Evangelist Scott Dawson stands in the lobby of an office tower that has been donated to serve as the new headquarters of Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association. (Photo by Greg Garrison/AL.com)
A commercial real estate firm that owned a $9.5 million corporate office tower formerly used to train bankers has donated it to a Birmingham ministry that plans to use it to train youth pastors.
The Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association closed Aug. 25 on the property, a 203,511 square-foot facility at 210 Wildwood Parkway that will now serve as the headquarters for Dawson’s evangelistic outreach and its student ministry, Strength to Stand.
“There’s such a need,” said Dawson, who temporarily stepped down as CEO of his ministry to run for governor of Alabama in 2018. He said he’s frequently contacted by churches from across the country looking for trained youth pastors, and the supply cannot keep up.
“We want it to be a ‘sending’ center,” said Dawson, who lost in the 2018 Republican primary to incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey.
Dawson will rely on working youth pastors to help train the next generation of youth pastors, he said.
“These are youth pastors teaching future youth pastors how to youth pastor in the trenches,” Dawson said.
The five-story, six-level corporate tower built by SouthTrust has been through several owners, including Colonial, Wachovia and Wells Fargo before Patriot Equities, a commercial real estate company based in Philadelphia, donated it to Dawson’s ministry. The property came with a 2,300-space parking deck.
It’s equipped with training rooms that were formerly used to train bank workers. Those will soon be used to teach classes to future youth pastors, worship leaders and worship production technicians at the Strength to Stand Institute, Dawson said.
“I can train 600 people in training rooms,” he said. “We have a two-year track for youth pastors, a one-year track for worship leaders and a six-month track for production leaders.”
The first class of students will be a focus group starting this fall, Dawson said.
Youth pastors will be trained with a year of classroom preparation in theology and leadership training, then will be sent on internships for a second year of supervised training on church staffs, Dawson said.
A group of 40 pastors has already raised more than $250,000 in pledges for scholarships for students, he said.
The tower is located off Lakeshore Parkway, just off the west side of the Lakeshore Parkway exit on Interstate 65.
Dawson said he hopes to bring other ministries in as partners to help use the building. “We want to be a collaboration center for ministries,” he said. “We work well with pastors and churches.”
Dawson’s ministry has a database of 60,000 churches, pastors, youth pastors, students and parachurch ministries that he has worked with since launching the evangelistic association in 1987.
“We’ve been around for 35 years,” he said.
He leads annual “Strength to Stand” student conferences in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., that included one headlined by rapper Kanye West in January 2020.
Attendance at the student conferences now tops 14,000 students and 600 student pastors.
“We just knew we needed more space,” Dawson said of looking for a new headquarters. His staff of more than 20 has been based at an office park in Mountain Brook.
Shannon Waltchack, a Birmingham commercial real estate firm, recommended the site to Dawson when the ministry was looking for future locations. “We couldn’t find anything,” Dawson said.
Dawson submitted a proposal to accept it as a donation, and after it went through an auction without a sufficient bid, Patriot Equities agreed to donate it. “They really want to see change happen,” Dawson said.
The building has been vacant for four years but has been well-maintained, Dawson said. “We still have to renovate and maintain it,” he said.
It has a cafeteria and auditorium food court that can be used for events.
Strength to Stand hosts thousands of students at summer and winter camps and conferences and supports student pastors with a counseling service and student pastor retreats.
Dawson is also known for his Safe at Home Faith & Family Nights in partnership with Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and the National Football League.
Dawson’s evangelistic outreach has reached more than a million people at events in Las Vegas, San Antonio, Pensacola, Kansas City, New York City, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Tampa, Chicago, Tulsa, Pigeon Forge, Panama City Beach and other cities over the past 35 years.
“We know what needs to be done,” Dawson said. “We’re passionate about reaching the next generation and believe if we can reach them, we can reach America.”
See also: Kanye West raps at Scott Dawson event
Kanye West, Birmingham Evangelist Scott Dawson team up for student conference
Evangelist Scott Dawson runs for governor on character, leadership
An office tower formerly used to train bank workers will be used to train future youth pastors, Evangelist Scott Dawson said. (Photo by Greg Garrison/AL.com)
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