The Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God has bought the 5,100-seat Cathedral of the Cross in Center Point and plans to make it the headquarters of the international Pentecostal denomination.

“It’ll fit our needs,” said AOH Presiding Bishop George W. Ayers, senior pastor of New Jerusalem AOH Church of God in Center Point and Phillips Temple AOH Church of God in Mobile.

The AOH Church of God holds a Pentecost celebration June 1-10 every year which draws about 6,000 people. The Cathedral of the Cross is a large enough building to host that meeting, Ayers said.

The AOH Church of God has about 24,000 U.S. members and 230 churches in America, mostly in the South. It has about that many members in Africa also, Ayers said.

Ayers was elected by the AOH board as presiding bishop of the denomination in 2002 after the late Bishop Jasper Roby became ill and was no longer able to serve. That set off a long legal battle over control of the denomination, which ended when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in Ayers’ favor.

Ayers said the AOH Church of God closed the purchase of Cathedral of the Cross on Friday after the congregation there had essentially discontinued, although an offshoot continues to meet in the Pinson area. AOH Church of God agreed to pay more than $2 million for the Cathedral of the Cross building, which Ayers said will need several hundred thousand dollars worth of renovation work. Ayers said the AOH Church will reopen a Christian school at the Cathedral of the Cross.

AOH Church of God worship services could be held in the building as soon as Nov. 20, he said.

Roby was the longtime presiding bishop and pastor of the AOH Cathedral in downtown Birmingham, which was sold to make room for an expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

Ayers renamed the congregation New Jerusalem AOH Church of God and moved the congregation and church headquarters in 2004 to the former Center Point Church of Christ building. That building will now be sold, Ayers said.

Ayers said the AOH Church of God had been planning a $3 million expansion at Phillips Temple AOH Church in Mobile that would have been the headquarters, but after delays in construction, it was able to get the Cathedral of the Cross for less than the planned expansion cost.

Ayers, who will turn 84 on Nov. 24, has homes in both Birmingham and Mobile and alternates preaching at his churches in both cities with his assistant pastor, the Rev. Reginald Davis.

He said Birmingham will be a more convenient meeting place for events such as this weeks bishops’ board meeting at New Jerusalem, which has drawn church leaders from Ohio, Washington, Michigan and other states. The June meetings have been held on the campus of the University of South Alabama the past several years but will be moved back to Birmingham, Ayers said.

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