Local pastor envisions ‘Destiny Dome’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 25, 2009


LAPLACE — A LaPlace pastor’s dream of building a domed-shaped church to accommodate his growing congregation is slowly starting to become a reality.

Rev. Steve O. Allen, pastor of Destiny Christian Center, said not long after he became a pastor he had a vision of what he calls the “Destiny Dome.”

“God told me divinely that I needed to build this dome,” Allen said. “It was not so much an idea as it was a command. I just want to do what I’m supposed to do.”

Allen wants to use a 7 to 10 acre tract of land along Woodland Drive in LaPlace to build his proposed church. He and his legal team have spent the past year going through the extensive mitigation and permitting process with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“We just wrapped up the 30-day public review process with the Department of Natural Resources with no major comments about the project,” said the church’s attorney Chris Trepagnier. “We don’t foresee the project causing any major impact on the wetlands in that area, so we are confident we will get the permits for construction.”

Allen said the present church building on Main Street near Airline Highway cannot fully accommodate his 3,600-member congregation. He said the church often stages multiple services on regular Sundays and holds Easter Sunday services in alternate locations so that everyone who wants to attend can be present. The new facility would be the largest church in the area, but Allen said this project isn’t just about size.

“I’m not out to gather the most people or build the biggest church,” Allen said. “This is a move of faith for me and my church family. We are just trying to impact as many lives as we can.”

Allen said he chose the Woodland drive location specifically because it is in a location in LaPlace that is run down and over run by crime. He hopes the new church can rejuvenate that area in the same way that the present church has revitalized Main Street.

“This stretch of road used to be full of run down buildings and always had a strong criminal element,” said Allen. “We changed that here, and we hope to do the same with the new church.”

In addition to the “Destiny Dome,” Allen said the new facility would include a youth center and a coffee shop that will be known as “The Sanctuary.” Allen said he wants the new building to be a place where the youth of the parish can spend their time instead of being out on the street. Eventually, Allen said he would also like to add a gym to the area.

The church has yet to purchase the Woodland Drive land because Allen wants to be sure that the permit process has been completely squared away.

A spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources said the permit had been on hold since May 27 because they wanted the church to justify or reduce the amount of impact to the surrounding wetlands. Trepagnier said now that the public comment period is complete, the church probably has about another six months until a permit for construction can be awarded.