By Mike Bibb
SAFFORD – More than a year after the devastating rain and hail storm that struck Safford on Oct. 8, 2016, the Harvest Tabernacle Church, associated with the United Pentecostal Church, is finally seeing reconstruction progress. The little chapel, located on the corner of 7th Street and 7th Avenue in Safford, was severely damaged in last fall’s horrific thunderstorm.
As previously reported in the July 23, 2017, issue of Gila Valley Central, the original church sustained major losses in the storm, including irreparable roof and truss damage, as well as flooding to the interior of the structure. A city inspection later determined the building to be unsafe, forcing the congregation to temporarily relocate to new worship facilities.
Presently, the church is holding worship services and related activities in the former Regency Medical Offices, located on the corner of 5th Avenue and Highway 70/5th St. in Safford, across the street from the National Bank of Arizona.
Initially constructed in 1953, the church has only had three pastors in its 64-year history. Rev. Harlan Gregg ministered until 1975, followed by Rev. Mervin Keyes’ stewardship until he retired in 1994. Rev. Kris Keyes then assumed the responsibilities and remains the church’s current pastor.
While construction of the new building is taking place, the original church – across the street – has been torn down and plans call for replacing it with a much-needed parking area, serving the church and other local events.
Anyone wishing to contribute donations to the church is welcomed to do so. Your support will be greatly appreciated. Financial contributions can be sent to Harvest Tabernacle Church, P.O. Box 49, Safford, AZ 85548.