Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Churches Who Quit Paying Their Mortgage Payments

A new trend seems to be emerging in certain circles of Christianity these days - quit paying your church mortgage yet with no plan to curtail outlandish spending habits - keep taking in the weekly tithe money and use it for what?  Pastor families who feel they are called as Christians to live like the rich and famous apparently want you to fund their lifestyles for Jesus.  Big proponents of the Properity Gospel these churches have outdone themselves on exhibiting their rules-don't-apply-to-us attitudes by defaulting on their mortgages.  Maybe we should all quit making our house payments too and use the money to go on vacation with pastors who seem to have invented a new meaning for recreational living.  Like them, we can just pray the Lord will provide for us through some hard-working business people who already have good investment practices.  We should ALL have such a sense of entitlement.  After all, we are King's Kids, are we not?  Well, yes we are children of the King, but that Particular King never mentioned living the high life using money from the collection plate.  Well, I guess he did refer to that, but it was in disgust of the practices of the Pharisees who loved the choice seats in the synagogue and walked around in fine robes, acting superior to the people who gave them their money.  Wow, that certainly resembles the attitudes of certain modern day prosperity-driven pastors - at least the ones we've seen.

Back to the delinquent mortgage topic, there are plenty of church stories to link to, but I will limit this post to the churches here out west that we happen to have been affiliated with at one time.  A few years back, Benny Perez, head pastor of The Church of Las Vegas, made news in his city and nationwide (Charisma magazine , Christianity Today ) when he and his board decided to quit paying the church mortgage because they owed the bank $7 million when the property was then only worth $2 million.  "The unusual move sparked debate over Christian ethics" says Christianity Today.  Eventually, a Canadian businessman and philanthropist (who is a friend to one of the church board members) bailed them out with a pledge of $3 million and then the church came up with another $1 million to keep themselves out of bankruptcy.  Now they have plans to build a new building and Benny has been spotted recently golfing on the Newport Coast which is quite spendy from what my friend who knows tells me. 

Even closer to home, the pastor of our former church (whose cousin is married to Benny Perez) decided that he too should quit paying his church mortgage.  (Was he advised by Benny to do this or did he decide, hey what works for BP works for me?)  Not too sure his board at the time was on board since none of them are on the board at this time but his wife and son and probably his cousins from Seattle.  According to THIS public notice that ran in the Idaho Stateman 4 weeks in March 2013, Capital Christian Center hasn't paid a mortgage since July 2012.  At the time the notice posted, the church owed more than $2 million on the church property - and it lists the payments they were ignoring from July - December 2012:

The defaults for which this sale is to be made are failure of Grantor to pay: (i) monthly payments as follows: $21,313.40 due July 15, 2012, $42,828.32 due August 15, 2012, $21,313.40 due September 15, 2012, $23,343.24 due October 15, 2012, $21,313.40 due November 15, 2012, and $20,298.48 due December 15, 2012, as set forth and required by the Deed of Trust and Note, and monthly payments thereafter on the 15th day of each month until the date of sale or reinstatement; (ii)late charges in the amount of $28,619.36, due and owing as of January 3, 2013 
The principal balance due on the Note as of January 3, 2013, was $2,543,323.75. The balance owing as of January 3, 2013, on the Note secured by the Deed of Trust (collectively, "Loan Documents"), was $2,654,427.60

If they didn't come up with the money by today, May 21st there was to be a Trustee Sale held, according to the public notice.  I'm sure CCC was praying and believing for a benefactor to bail them out in the nick of time to mirror what took place with Benny's church.  So, here it is May 21st and is there a Trustee Sale happening for the property at 2760 East Fairview Avenue, Meridian, ID, 83642?  No, because the benefactor apparently came in the form of their cousins who own a mega church in Seattle.  They co-signed a loan to make it possible to stave off today's sale.  Not sure on the details, but  I will update this info as it comes, but for now, all we know is they narrowly escaped at this time.  Were their prayers answered by this band-aid fix by relatives who step in to rescue their cousins in Boise?  Knowing the way they think, we are sure they believe it's the grace and favor of the Lord.  And who are we to know the mind of the Lord who is known for his long-suffering, so it may be.  Perhaps He is thinking of the unsuspecting and trusting people in the congregation in delaying what seems inevitable - after all, His timing is known for being perfect.

Grace or no grace, let's not forget the church in Boise operates as a 501c3 which means they have tax exempt status.  It would behoove the lead pastor family not to abuse this privilege in any way.  For instance, if they are using designated offering funds for designer clothes and furniture, multiple trips to Hawaii, expensive toys for their young children, etc., it could peek the interest of the IRS and that status could be revoked.  Even if the IRS never sees it, the people under their umbrella should be putting 2 and 2 together and seeing the church isn't making their mortgage payments but the lifestyle hasn't changed.  And now that the pastors to the rich and famous (don't even get me started) from Seattle are bailing their cousins out, shouldn't they be watching to see if CCC is going to begin to exhibit wise stewardship with the money so the loan isn't all for nought?

Do we want to see them fall, go under, be destroyed?  Not necessarily.  Do we want to see them no longer get away with unacceptable behavior?  Yes.  As long as they continue to blatently use tithes and offerings to live plushly while refraining from true, fruitful ministry, we have a bone to pick with them.  We'd like to see that come to an end because it brings damage to the cause of Christ by playing havoc with people's faith who are still within the 4 walls of the church at 2760 E. Fairview.  It would be great if the pastor family recognized what kind of people they have become, repent before the Lord and in front of the people fully, and get back to real Christianity and try to represent the true Gospel of Jesus.  If they don't see a need to change, then get jobs in the real world and live high on the hog that way - it would at least be acceptable.  Aren't pastors supposed to hold to a different standard, as they've always said, examples of how God wants us to live, as they've always preached?  They faithfully collect money every week from people who trust them to be wise stewards with that money to "do the work of the ministry".  It's evident that the lead clan is getting ministered to, but we have seen anything but wise stewardship from them to date.