ELIZABETHTON — The East Tennessee Sports Complex has become a center for youth activity and fun since it was built in the Watauga Industrial Park a few years ago, but a different sort of excitement is scheduled for the building on the weekend of Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The Eddie James Ministries will present its Conference Freedom during that weekend with four musical and inspirational services.
The services will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 and three times on Oct. 1, at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“All four of the services will be different,” said Aaron Morgan, pastor of Elizabethton Assembly of God, which is sponsoring the event. “There will be a praise band and preaching and interpretive dance.”
Morgan has been a close friend of James for many years and even shared his house with James and his large group of performers during a time when James’ bus was disabled. That was when he really got to know James and his impact on the lives of young people.
“Eddie is a very unique person,” Morgan said. “When he was 9 years old he had a dream and he felt like it was from God. In that dream he saw an angel taking sheet music out of a filing cabinet and putting it in Eddie’s chest. Since that time, Eddie has written over 500 songs.”
But James is not just a songwriter, he is a master motivator of young people. Morgan said James has a talent for attracting troubled young people and bringing out their latent talents, whether it is singing, dancing, preaching or driving the bus. Many of the young people have gone on to fulfill active roles in churches and religious organizations around the country.
Morgan had been friends with James for years when he got a call one day that James’ bus was disabled near Chattanooga and he needed help. Morgan is the proprietor of A & E Frame and Body Shop in Johnson City and had a tow truck capable of moving the bus.
For some time after that, Morgan and his wife shared their house with James and his youngsters. The close living quarters only strengthened the bonds between Morgan and James. Morgan has organized numerous concerts in the Tri-Cities area featuring James.
But Morgan wanted to do something on a larger scale and started a search for a bigger auditorium.
“I was looking around and someone suggested the East Tennessee Sports Complex. I had never heard of it even though it was just down the street.”
Morgan checked it out and was impressed. Even though the complex was designed for athletic events, he said the owner was willing to make it available for the Eddie James services. One of his few requirements was that all the audience wear court shoes to prevent scratches and marks on the hardwood athletic floors.
“Now that I had a place, I called Eddie and got him to agree to do the show,” Morgan said. Now he is busy trying to fill the arena.
“I think it can hold around 3,500 people,” Morgan said.
To get those kinds of numbers for four services is a major undertaking. He and promotion coordinator Neil Freedman, owner of Sossner Steel Stamps, are reaching out to 550 churches in the Tri-Cities to get the word out.
The East Tennessee Sports Complex has seen a lot of exciting events over the past few years and Morgan is working to make sure that there will be plenty of excitement in the arena on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The sports complex is located in the Watauga Industrial Park at 103 Smoky Mountain Place. From Elizabethton take the Stoney Creek Highway (Tenn. Highway 91) to the industrial park on the right and follow the signs.
For more information, call Morgan at 361-1006.