Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When that process was unsuccessful, we had to file foreclosure

Facing Foreclosure: Without Walls International Church

Written by Brenda Easterling, on 06-11-2008 15:34

The church body known as Without Walls International Church faces foreclosure of its Tampa property. This church was at one time one of the fastest-growing congregations in the country.

According to court records the church defaulted on a loan that was due in August and the credit union is demanding immediate repayment of that loan and the $12-million mortgage on Without Walls’ Grady Avenue property. Also the, foreclosure proceedings were filed by the California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union who holds the church’s mortgage on the Without Walls International Church.

Pastor of Without Walls, Rev. Randy White said he is shocked by this move and said church leaders thought they were actively negotiating with the credit union when they were informed of this situation.Church leaders did negotiate with the company for months. They even presented the credit union with an agreement from a buyer who plans to purchase some of the church’s property for $1.4-million which would cover repayment of the $1-million loan.The church had been told the credit union would move the due date on the $12-million mortgage from January to June.

White said he showed the credit union a signed contract for a $33-million offer to purchase one of the church’s assets. All proceeds if the sale takes place would allow Without Walls to pay of its debt. White said, “In my opinion, it’s nothing more than greed from a Christian bank who’s supposed to be working with Christians.” “I don’t think Bank of America or SunTrust would ever do what this bank’s done. I think it’s because they’re drowning, they’re pulling so many people in with them. They’re scrambling.”

The Credit Union spokesman Jac La Tour said, “We worked with them for a number of months to reach an agreement.” “When that process was unsuccessful, we had to file foreclosure. It wasn’t a quick decision.” La Tour also said saving his company aims to help ministries, not sell real estate.This foreclosure comes as one of the ministry’s most difficult years.

The Rev. White in the last year divorced, and lost a daughter to brain cancer and has experienced a decline in church attendance. Without Walls board members include White’s ex-wife and church co-founder Paula White and Carrington who are very devastated according to the pastor.

Carrington said through tears “this is just really shocking”, we are not in a major financial default on our loan we’ve been 100 percent compliant with that loan for over 7 ½ years. This is just unbelievable.”

A difficult economy and layoffs are weighing heavy on church members and their ability to donate which continues to decrease in the income bringing it down by 30 percent according to White. The church chief financial officer, Norva Carrington said Without Walls owes $13-million on its Tampa property and $12.5-million on its church’s Lakeland branch. The credit union has also is putting in the works the foreclosure proceedings on the church’s Lakeland branch.

White will fight despite the church’s financial situation. Lawyers are checking into the federal regulators for an investigation of the California credit union. White said, “We didn’t throw the first punch, but the fight is just starting because I think right is right, and wrong is wrong.”

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