A Christian Mall Opens ‘The Prayer Store’ January 8, 2011

A Christian Mall Opens ‘The Prayer Store’

I have so many questions about The Prayer Station store in Hickory Ridge Mall in Memphis, TN:

  1. Wouldn’t it be better business for a retail store to use that space?
  2. Whose shopping agenda consists of visiting Macy’s, Build-a-Bear, and The Prayer Store?
  3. If Groupon were to offer a deal on this place, what would that deal be…?
  4. What if someone who’s not Christian wants to be prayed for?
  5. Do any prayer requests get rejected?
  6. Does the store offer warranties? What if I want to return the product because I’m not happy with it?
  7. What stores are near The Prayer Store? (Someone please tell me that it’s Victoria’s Secret…)
  8. Who is working on Sunday and why aren’t they in church?

I suppose this explains a few things:

In 2008, [World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church Inc.] purchased the [mall] property, including the Applebee’s Restaurant on the north front entrance; later it also acquired the retail space that housed Macy’s and Dillard’s.

The mall space will be utilized in six ways: retail, community services, training and education services, family entertainment, youth recreation and ministry…

Ah, the Christian Mall… my favorite place to hang out on weekends. So much for the Victoria’s Secret idea, though.

If a church owns a mall, I don’t know whether that cheapens the church, makes the mall less desirable to visit, or actually helps both out.

(Thanks to kindofabuzz for the link)


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  • I wonder how taxes work out?

  • Ben

    How is it that a church can own a mall and still claim to be a non-profit organisation?

  • Jason Myers

    Memphian here, I wasn’t aware that Hickory Ridge Mall was even open still. Half the mall is completely empty. HRM is nearly as bad as the Mall of Memphis, which is locally known as the Mall of Murder.

  • Retail space is just as depressed as anything else in the current economy. Here in super awesome Sacramento, we have a different/better idea. A local band Zug has a store in one of our malls and they sell their wares (tee shirts, CD’s-n-stuff). They also are allowed to have a stage where they have live shows. Our malls are doing this because there are so many vacancies. It is a far our, and yet, innovative idea. Better than The Wishful Thinking, errrr, Prayer Store.

    Kriss

  • I’m not up on this aspect of US law, but shouldn’t this put their tax-exempt status under some sort of review?

    It’s one thing to offset expenses, but this seems like a money-making venture.

    Don’t think it’s what jesus had in mind when he drove the moneychangers out of the temple.

    (I’m sure that won’t be the passage they read at the rededication) 🙂

  • MathMike

    Malls are usually great money makers for the local public school. Does the church ownership mean that the school district is getting shorted on revenue?

  • tim

    I work for a non-profit company and we own several for profit companies. I should say – we “indirectly” own several for profit companies. 🙂 It all comes down to how the businesses are structured and state/federal laws.

    I would have the same concerns about a church running a mall that I do any business that strays from its core mission. You are going to lose focus in your core mission.

  • Rich Wilson

    My local mall had a CoS stall for a few months. It was replaced by one selling those hologram embedded ‘bio bands’.

    e.g.

    HOTBAND® Holograms are programmed with naturally occurring frequencies, known to react positively with the body’s energy field to help improve cell to cell communication. When cells communicate well, we notice improved balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, stamina, focus & general well being. When HOTBAND® comes in contact with the body’s energy field, it resonates at a low-level frequency that improves the flow of energy throughout the body & helps to regulate static energy. This improved energy flow may achieve to promote faster synaptic response (brain function), enhanced muscle response (in both fast & slow twitch tissues), increased stamina (better oxygen uptake & recovery), improved flexibility (faster recovery) & improved balance.

    I’m not sure which is worse.

  • God isn’t on the money, to Christians God is money. What better place to worship the god of money and commerce then in a shopping mall.

  • They better be paying a heaping pile of taxes!

  • VS

    I wonder about the tax implications too. Perhaps they put in the prayer center in order to claim it was a place of worship and get out of paying taxes on the property at all?

  • Since they aren’t charging, I think several of these questions (such as refunds and Groupons) are irrelevant. If someone comes to the mall for the prayer store and ends up eating or buying something else while they are there, I’m sure it makes up for the lack of retail space… donations to the church may do this as well.

  • Vanessa

    I was just going to say the same thing as Shelly.

    In addition, ever hear of Sunday afternoon or Saturday mass? Not everyone goes to church on Sunday at the same time.

  • What a stupid idea. Do these churches have so much money that they’ll throw it away on ridiculous things like this? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on helping the homeless, hungry, sickly or poor? Couldn’t they open a book or clothing exchange or a job clinic for the unemployed? Couldn’t they do some good with all their wealth rather than waste it on a stupid prayer store?

    What a bunch of tossers.

  • Phoebe

    Yeah all I wonder about is the taxes. A mall is a mall, retail is retail, real estate is real estate. They had better be paying taxes like everyone else would be.

  • Carlie

    Since all the prayer partner volunteers are from the same evangelical church, I’d like to know what happens if someone comes in and wants to pray a rosary. Or chant a mantra. Will someone still rush over to pray with them then?

  • NotYou007

    I would love to drop a card in the prayer box that reads:

    Will you please pray for the day that humans realize there is no God(s) and humans would live much happier and fuller lives if they stopped believing in a God(s).

  • I live in Northwest Louisiana, there’s a mall here that is owned by a local church as well. It was bought at least a decade ago. Since then, virtually all the stores have gone out of business, save a Burlington which is still holding on.

    I think the church uses it as worship space now. Possibly conferences as well – I admit I don’t pay much attention.

    On a side note, another church bought out a local kid’s park – go-cart track, log ride, arcade, that sort of thing. They don’t operate it and it has fallen mostly into direpair, but to my knowledge it’s the only church in the country that has their own log ride.

  • JD

    I think they should charge. Think about it, some of the things at the mall are things you can make for yourself for far less. They could charge people for praying when people could pray for themselves at home and get just as good of a result.

  • NotYou007

    This is a test…

  • Another reason I don’t live in TN.

  • Dan W

    Sounds like one mall to avoid going to, in the event that I find myself in Memphis, TN.

  • Dan

    Open seven days a week

    Really? They work on the sabbath?

    They pray in public? Matthew 6:6 has Jesus saying “… whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.”

  • Richard Wade

    From the video:

    So you write your prayer request on a card, put it in the prayer station box, and a volunteer will pray for you.

    A volunteer? Not a professional? Are these people properly educated, trained and licensed? I think they should have at least a Master’s degree in Prayer, several years of supervised internship as prayors, and a state license. I mean, what if they screw it up? You’re dealing with the fricking Almighty here. You shouldn’t leave your hopes, fears and dreams in the hands of some shmuck who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I once heard of some guy who had an amateur pray to heal his prostate, and he ended up with (insert hilarious freakish sexual outcome here).

  • stellaluna

    remember the handmaid’s tale?

  • MikeB

    All of the big name stores have vacated this mall. Hope they have everything bolted down at the prayer store because the majority of patrons of the mall like to walk out with items they didn’t pay for. Once had Sears, Macy’s and Dillards. All have closed.

    Also the so-called World Overcomers Outreach Church is kind of a mega-church in the area. I’m sure if you right down a prayer on one of those cards you’re also asked for contact information so they can solicit a donation. It’s about money but then again isn’t it always with these “ministries”?

  • Rich Wilson

    Place a card in a box? How 20th century. If I want someone to pray for me, I want to be able to tweet it!

  • @stellaluna

    Unfortunately, yes…

  • Claudia

    If the activities don’t involve money changing hands, then I don’t really see how they could have tax issues. After all, this is little more than setting up a gimick church. Other churches are practically local headquarters for politicians and aren’t threatened, so me thinks these guys are in the clear. The real issue is not taxing churches in the first place.

    As for the drop-in prayer service, I see the chance for all kinds of mischief. Here are a few quick ones:

    – I would like a prayer so that my dearest brother sees the error of his ways and turns to god. Please touch his spirit so that he may surrender to his lord and live a righteous life. Allahu Akbar.

    – I would like to request that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner (me), confessedly unworthy.

    – I’d like a prayer for my god-child. May you grow up healthy, happy and full of light and curiosity. I’d also like a prayer for her wonderful parents, Jane and Cynthia.

  • lurker111

    “Whose shopping agenda consists of visiting Macy’s, Build-a-Bear, and The Prayer Store?”

    Uh … Someone who’s just maxed out their credit card? 😉

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Wouldn’t it be better business for a retail store to use that space?

    Yes, it would, but malls like to fill all their space. Empty storefronts give off a bad vibe. So if no other tenant was available, they would probably prefer to fill it with anything. I have been to the Mall of America, and it is they have a strong policy of keeping all their space filled. That’s why they have shops selling neckties, shops selling socks, etc. From the view of the mall management it is literally better than nothing.

  • billybobbibb

    This seems like a savvy business move by the church, especially since it’s in the Tennessee Bible Belt. Many churches start out in strip centers, this one takes that concept up a couple notches. Even though I’m an atheist, I do believe in freedom of religion.

    If these people are doing it right, they will have set up a for-profit corporation to manage the commercial tenants, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that the for-profit corporation would be able to deduct any charitable donations it makes to the 501(c)(3) church corporation, which is what will keep the Prayer Station free to customers. Many churches operate coffee shops and book stores on their church campuses and avoid corporate taxes they would have to pay for an off-site business, and that’s just not fair. So watch this one carefully, because the Prayer Station look ripe for ethical violations if they aren’t careful.

  • Kae

    Perhaps the folks from Memphis can clarify – did the church buy the /businesses/ or just the property they once occupied? I know in a number of places, churches take over empty shopping centres/ strip malls as affordable real estate, since having them empty is an ‘attractive nuisance’

  • Vas

    World Over Comers Church!?! Spiritual War Room!?! Really? I’m convinced that a great many xtians think they are at war… and I’m one of the enemy forces in their mind.

    Next topic…

    Rich Wilson Said-

    My local mall had a CoS stall for a few months. It was replaced by one selling those hologram embedded ‘bio bands’… I’m not sure which is worse.

    So Rich just how much do you know about Cos?

    Really they are not so different from the average atheist, in fact most if not all members of Cos are in fact atheists. “Satanism begins with atheism” after all. Really when you boil it down (IMO) Cos is little more than organized atheism, with some self empowerment and rituals thrown in for good measure, (a sort of “purpose driven” atheism). Whatever the case Cos is not a theistic endeavor, nor is it a pseudoscientific or supernatural scam.
    And what exactly would go on at a CoS stall anyway? the CoS does not recruit, nor does it seek new members in any way shape or form. Want to be a part of it… you need to contact them. Many CoS members are not even public about their affifation. Come to think of it I’m wondering if you just made this up… A CoS stall at a mall? Come on now, I have never heard of such a thing, this is not a group know for public events. In fact the only public event I’m aware of in my entire life was a Satanic Mass here in Los Angeles in June of 2006. I have a hard time believing this is a group that would have a mall booth!

    For the record I am not affiliated in any way with the Church of Satan, I just happen to have dedicated a great deal of time studying this group, and I gotta say they don’t seem all that wacky to me, but then again I have spent over a decade of my life in “show business”, (the same business Cos is involved in) so I’m used to wacky.

    V

  • Mizlolz in Memphis

    A little background might help. (Sorry, Jason M, you need to read the paper. Mall of Memphis was torn down years ago).

    Twenty-five years ago the Hickory Ridge Mall was the place to be. That part of the county took a downturn and so did the mall. The last straw was the Super-Tuesday tornado in March 2008, which did heavy damage to the mall, especially the Dillard’s. When Dillard’s announced they would not re-open, the World Overcomers (whose church building is next door and looks like a spaceship) decided to buy the property. They rent a lot of spaces to their members, but also have kept some of the original tenants. The empty units are filled in with “outreach” projects such as the Prayer Station.

    I can’t speak for the tax situation, but they did keep the mall from being yet another empty hulk (plenty of those here in Memphis).

  • Eh, I’m not bothered by this. As long as their tax situation is on the up and up, I don’t see why a church shouldn’t buy a mall and operate a prayer store. It’s bizarre, though – something that could only happen in the Bible Belt, that’s for sure!