For five years, the largest auto mall in the world sat vacant, a looming testimony to the economic bust that rocked the Dallas area after the boom years of the late 1980s.

The former 25-acre Henry Butts Auto Mall in Carrollton has been resurrected--and converted. It is now home to the 1,800-member Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. The congregation began meeting in the former four-story atrium showroom on Palm Sunday. The faint impression of Oldsmobile and Daihatsu signs are visible on the sanctuary walls.

Nine different automakers, each with a separate showroom, had moved into the mall when construction ended a decade ago. But by 1991, it had been taken over by the Resolution Trust Corporation.

Prince of Peace found the highly visible location attractive when its own facilities became overcrowded, according to Steve Wagner, senior pastor for the past 18 years. The church also will relocate its Christian school for 440 students to the new site. The former mall has 225,000 square feet of space in ten buildings. Prince of Peace plans to allow parachurch ministries to use some of the space.

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