How the Dream Began
A Turning Point for Two Pastors and a Church
Pastor Tommy Barnett has a large and growing church in Phoenix, AZ. Many years ago, as he was growing his church he felt a calling to reach out to the hurting in Los Angeles.
In his effort to be faithful, Pastor Tommy worked hard to interest other pastors in joining him to care for Los Angeles. Each time, he would take his prospective partners to the area, only to have them change their mind. The mission fields of Watts, South Central, Compton, Imperial Courts, Nickerson Gardens and Downtown Los Angeles were clearly too dangerous and a new church would be unlikely to succeed.
Years Later, God showed Pastor Tommy that his youngest son, Pastor Matthew is the one to send to Los Angeles. Despite Pastor Tommy’s concerns for his safety, Pastor Matthew assumed the position of Pastor at a small church, Bethel Temple, in 1994. He was just 20 years old. With little activity in the church and the congregation attendance going down due to his age, Pastor Matthew began setting up his office outside on the sidewalk, asking people who passed by how he could help them.
As his outreach grew and the church came back to life, Pastor Matthew noticed the old, vacant Queen of Angels Hospital in Echo Park. He saw his father’s dream could become reality in that historic building – a place to offer God’s love to the homeless and addicted, to victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence, to emancipated foster youth and to those who hunger for food and hope.
The Dream Center Was Born
Today, thousands of individuals, businesses and churches in Los Angeles and around the world have caught the vision of The Dream Center, volunteering and giving as God leads. More than 100 independent Dream Centers so far have taken root throughout the States!
Roots of The Dream Center
How a Shuttered Hospital Became a Dream
The Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart founded Queen of Angels Hospital in 1926. Father Wilhelm Berger, founder of the Franciscan Sisters, defined their ministries as ‘works of neighborly love.’ With the establishment of the hospital, the sisters accepted the challenge to serve the poor, the sick and the aging of Los Angeles for more than a half-century.
The growth of Los Angeles’ population throughout the mid-1920’s and into the 1940’s was directly reflected in the steady rise in admissions, births and patient day care at the hospital. This warranted major expansion projects to the facility in 1938 and 1945. The expanded 360,000 square foot campus now housed nine buildings and covered over eight acres. The distinction as the largest teaching hospital west of the Mississippi soon followed.
Despite enduring The Great Depression and World War II, the healing center fell victim to financial troubles in the early 1980′s, forcing a merger with neighboring Hollywood Clara Barton Memorial Hospital. The newer medical facility, located just three miles away, was renamed Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in 1989, at which time Queen of Angels Hospital closed its doors.
The site was mostly vacant but for a handful of loyal Franciscan Sisters that undertook caretaking duties. The property was also a popular location for commercial, film, music video and television productions.
The owner of the facility rejected lucrative offers from major entertainment companies in favor of Pastors Tommy and Matthew Barnett’s vision to convert the facility into a ‘spiritual healing center.’ Yet even the discounted $10 million dollar asking price was still out of range. Prayer and negotiations brought the asking price down to $3.9 million dollars, and ‘The Church That Never Sleeps’ established its new home in 1996, touching 50,000 lives every month.