Already the world's theme park capital, Orlando is emerging as a spiritual capital—a new Holy Land for Christianity's modern crusaders.
More than a dozen international ministries, evangelical organizations, and seminary branches have sprung up or relocated to central Florida, and more are on the way. This year, two multimillion-dollar complexes are scheduled to open, both designed in part to convert tourists into pilgrims.
"It looks like Orlando will be the third evangelical Jerusalem in the U.S. [after Wheaton, Illinois, and Colorado Springs]," says evangelical media analyst Quentin Schultze of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. "I think you're going to see significant growth in the next ten years."
Wycliffe Bible Translators, a Huntington Beach, California-based organization, is negotiating to purchase a 200-acre site close to Orlando International Airport. Wycliffe will move its 300 headquarters employees to rental facilities in Orlando by July.
Two more evangelical Christian organizations recently announced plans to establish an Orlando presence. Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, will become the second major seminary to establish a permanent branch campus in the area. Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, has signed a contract to purchase the Maitland campus of Reformed Theological Seminary, which is moving to a new facility in nearby Oviedo.
In April, Campus Crusade for Christ will occupy the first phase of its 260,000-square-foot, $42 million complex near Orlando International Airport (CT, Oct. 6, 1997, p. 84). Campus Crusade moved to the area seven years ago from California.
Campus Crusade founder Bill Bright hopes that when the World Center for Discipleship and Evangelism is completed ...1
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