Hickory Conference Center being tuned into a church - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Hickory Conference Center being tuned into a church

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HICKORY, NC (WBTV) -

A Hotel and Convention center in Hickory that has been the site of numerous proms, weddings and other gatherings in the past 20 years will soon become a place of worship.

The Gateway Hotel and Conference center has been purchased by the Harvest Bible Chapel which plans to move from its current location near Lake Hickory.

"We want to make it the cornerstone for that part of town and reach out to the people through the church ministry," said Mark Schmitz. The exact price has not been disclosed but officials do say the cost was "a couple of million dollars."

A fundraising drive will be held to collect more money for the renovations that will be needed. Harvest Bible Chapel, according to officials, has been growing tremendously in recent years. Three services on Sundays are packed at the current location.

The new location is right next to the intersection of Highways 321 and 70.

"54 thousand drivers go by the place every day," said Pastor Kurt Gebhards. That was one of the attractive selling points of the property say church officials. They are hoping to be more visible in the Hickory area and the location is perfect for that, they say.

Officials hope to have some of the church offices in the new facility ready in the next month or so. Construction to transform the rest of the facility into a church could take some time but might be underway by this summer, they think.

The history of proms, weddings and other events have made the place special for many people, they said. Now they are hoping to make more memories of a different sort. "Memories that will have eternal consequences and benefits," said Schmitz.

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