KINGDOM CITY, Mo. (AP) — A small town outside Columbia is home to a tiny chapel that serves truckers making a pit stop.
The chapel at the Interstate 70 Petro Kingdom City truck stop is roughly the same size of a tractor-trailer. The chapel is open daily and can seat 14 people, but only one or two usually show up, the Columbia Missourian reported.
The place of worship is one of nearly 80 chapels nationwide created by Truckstop Ministries Inc., a Georgia-based organization founded decades ago by a former trucker. The organization has chapels at truck stops in 28 states, with three locations in Missouri.
"There's quite a few different trucking ministries out there," said David Owen, vice president of operations for Truckstop Ministries. "But if it weren't for us and the other ministries, there'd be nowhere for (truckers) to go to church."
Jack Martin, 70, leads a team of eight chaplains at the Kingdom City chapel. He said his truck stop ministry has brought him the greatest fulfillment of his career.
"In a year doing this, probably, I feel like I helped more people than I did in five or six years (of) pastoral ministry because everybody that I see, I become more involved personally with them," said Martin, who has a master's degree in divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology.
Owen said building a sense of community is one of the organization's primary goals. Truckstop Ministries will only open a new chapel location if it has at least four dedicated chaplains, all of whom are volunteers.
Margaret Shope is a trucker who has been worshipping at the organization's chapels for more than 20 years. She said the chapels are a great replacement for when she's away from her San Antonio church.
"I was very excited," Shope said of her first chapel visit. "Because I missed my home church, (I was) very excited to have other brothers and sisters, and I think at this particular one there was maybe five or six of us, but it was just wonderful. It felt like you were at home."