SALISBURY, N.C. — It was a one-of-a kind landmark. A chapel next to a truck stop.
But Derrick’s Travel Center in Salisbury will soon have new owners and they plan to tear down the Trucker's Chapel and put up a new, more modern truck stop. There are no plans to build a new chapel.
"It's bitter sweet, but we know God's hand is on this place," said Billy Beaver, one of the founders at the chapel.
"We've come here every week and saw so many people being helped," said Pastor Larry Beaver.
Larry Beaver, his sons and his China Grove church built the Trucker's Chapel a decade ago.
"Normally, drivers coming in would be people who were on the road. Some lived in their trucks. They just wanted spiritual refreshment," said Larry Beaver.
Together, father and sons have slowly closed the chapel and worked to save what they can. Piece by piece, the Trucker's Chapel is coming down.
"It's sad, but I know God will open another door," said Billy Beaver as he took down the chapel's cross.
"Yeah, taking down the cross at the final days of the ministry is going to be here at the truck stop is kind of bitter sweet," he said.
The family isn't angry. They know the new truck stop will bring jobs to the area. But for truckers like Ernest Simmons, it's a kick in the gut.
"I feel sort of sad about it because it's the only place I've ever gone for 25 years," he said.
The pastor said the Trucker's Chapel was special because it offered a place of respite and reflection. A building. A church.
"Most of them wanted to talk, wanted someone with a listening ear," the pastor said.
Larry Beaver plans to continue his ministry from the truck stop parking lot on CB radio. He hopes to talk to the truckers who are near, and then invite them into the new truck stop for a cup of coffee and prayer.