March 10, 2012
Church that Chose Mission Over Mortgage Exits Bankruptcy
Record numbers of churches are losing their facilities.
The record number of church foreclosures keeps climbing. Almost 140 American churches were sold by banks in 2011 after defaulting on their loans, Reuters reported. Almost 300 churches have defaulted since 2010 as banks have become more reluctant to refinance.
For the Church at South Las Vegas, which sparked debate when it stopped paying its mortgage last May and filed for Chapter 11 protection in July, a financial benefactor has stepped in and prevented the congregation from facing foreclosure.
The Las Vegas church, which owed nearly $8 million on property now worth only $2.4 million, had enough money to make its monthly mortgage payments but believed it was bad stewardship to have tithes keep going into a "black hole" of debt instead of toward its mission. The unusual move sparked debate over Christian ethics.
But last month, Canadian businessman and philanthropist Ron Fehr, a friend of church board member Jude Fouquier, pledged to provide $3 million to help the church, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The church contributed $1 million from its own funds to complete the package and pay off its mortgage lender. (Court documents did not disclose exactly how much the bank accepted as payment for the money owed.)
Founder and pastor Benny Perez told CT that the church was discharged from its Chapter 11 status on March 6. Despite its financial difficulties, the congregation is growing and plans on expanding its facilities, he said, adding, “Our church has flourished in the midst of all things.”