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. 


nonCelebrityChristian said...

Well you've done it again Detox!. Thank you for exposing this crime or should I say "Heist" against the people of God. How much has this church stolen through the years in terms of taking designated offerings that the people think are going to actually pay the mortgage payments? How much did it take the Celebrity Pastor Cousin to catch up over 9 months of payments that were missed on the mortgage while they continued to life lifestyles of the rich and pastorally famous? The proof is on facebook and instagram because if you can't brag about your lifestyle whats the point? Its a great scheme - money making - non - accountability wise. It works like this - do a beg-athon for some crisis or new program you want to start. Collect the money and put it in a General Fund. Let it sit around awhile and when everyone is focused on the next big thing just slide....... that money into your own accounts. Of course there is little to no accountability because if anyone asks too many questions you are frowned upon and told not to gossip. Forget standard accounting practices and just don't answer any questions. So what if your church board resigns or elders are suddenly seen no more. Its all in a day work. Who cares if that nasty bank wants to be paid back morgage payments or the IRS actually demands payroll taxes. Who cares! Don't they know we're special, we're elite in our little kingdom. The rules don't apply to us. So what if those little people/sheep have to work for a living, they get the privledge of giving ot us and watching our fabulous Kardashian lifestyle on facebook - right? They can live vicariously and hope they will someday be so "blessed."
Funny their are other embezzlers and swindlers that feel just like you do. Maybe you'll get to be neighbors in prison down the hall from the Enron executives if you're lucky. Even if their Celebrity Pastor relatives have a fund to bail you out right now it doesn't mean it will keep them out of trouble. Lets say they actually 'loaned' them the money to catch up on their payments they haven't managed to pay in almost a year, do they think they'll suddenly learn new accounting practices and be able to pay it back. Of course if all goes well they'll sell all the property they own including land out the back door that is currently for sale and that will solve everything. Right - Wrong! They live like its their personal piggy bank and now they can't even pay the mortgage for almost 10 months! Plus all the other bills they haven't paid in a long time.
What exactly do they think was the downfall of other huge organizations like the Crystal Cathedral for instance. They thought their money train and rich millionare would never quit giving. How about PTL? No one thought they would ever be in bankruptcy either. And don't forget the ORU debaucle where Lindsay and Richard couldn't get ahead of their debts and expenses and Hobby Lobby had to come and buy the University. Now that was a rich experience that we want to forget. They even had national exposure and could really do a beg-a-thon but after a while it just wouldn't work.
Do we ever see the writing on the wall and learn anything from the very recent past? Sorry I forgot they are different and think they are the exception to the the rules.
Their co-dependent congregation of well -meaning blind sheep must be on Meth! There is simply no other accounting for this audacious blind trust of fools!

NoJoke said...

Hey nonCelebrityChristian -

Such a great point on the run-down of how the scheme works: beg-athon - collect - General fund - let it sit - withdraw or transfer into personal account. follow the money trail works every time!

I was reminded today Jesus so blatently said in Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."

Also, great examples - PTL and ORU - Crystal Cathedral (the original mega church) - if they couldn't avoid downfall, you are so right, how does BP and KGW think they will avoid it if they keep spending the way they are spending?? Inquiring minds need to google or bing where all 3 of those ministries stand today.

I had to LOL at the Kardashian reference! That is really rich :-) and totally fits! Oh, how we love the Christian Kardashian type. How many of those are clacking around the Body of Christ these days redefining the meaning of the 'blessing of God'? Clackers are completely misrepresenting and misdirecting what our lifestyle as Christians should be. Thank you clacker christianity, we are so grateful for your contribution to sending us to the trains before our time.

And Enron - I'm so glad you brought that up! Talk about a story to learn from! and talk about a House of Cards! To think Ken Lay was the son of a Baptist minister. Another instance of growing up poor and without much and needing to make up for it in adulthood. For those interested, check out the very compelling story of the fall of Enron at the following link - very well worth your time (find out what HFV Accounting is - hypothetical future value accounting - a practice mega churches could use in their offering collections!):

Woe! Jesus' warning "Woe unto the scribes and pharisees..." is all I can think of right now!

nonCelebrityChristian said...

Great Thoughts No Joke! Every time these events or scandals take place the bloggers go to work to attempt to do the job of the Beareans! We are told to test everything - look at every wind of doctrine and examine the fruit. As was said on SGM Survivors Blog recently - a very intelligent group that is dealing with a sex-abuse scandal - we are not judging the people but we are judging the type of Gospel they are teaching. It is not about them personally but that always comes up if their defenders get on a blog to defend them because the ministries are all about them. We've allowed a culture of Professional Ministers who morph into Celebrity Pastors that demand Rock Star lifestyles. If you think we're off the track just jump over to Benny Perez's twitter. He can't seem to help himself by posting pictures of his lifestyle that is heading toward the Sratosphere again - reference to his Las Vegas roots!
Now some ministers or businessmen or even con-men would keep things on the downlow after having to be bailed out of a 7 million dollar debt on a church that is not of mega-mega size. We're not even sure how he did it since their building wasn't that off the charts when all was said and done. Of course it had the requisite 'look at me' tv screens and rock band show atmosphere that seems to be church building 101 now days! But we still can't figure out how he ran up such a total: could it be the toy collection of Mo-peds, bikes, VW Van Vintage restoration that was done. How about a nice house with a pool in a great neighborhood? Yes I realize its Vegas but still. How about the 2 nannies required and all the other help one must keep on staff with a growing family. Maybe it was the LA Laker tickets that he twittered on constantly. He had to be courtside watching his team. And every child in that world must have their 5 year old birthday parties at Disneyland complete with Castle tours am I right! Its a given in a celebrity pastor lifestyle. Endless trips, new clothes, cars vacatiions to Hawaii with more Celebrity Pastor Cousins. Its all great that is till you can't make the mortgage payments any longer! Well than we need a new begathon and fortunately for his lifestyle someeone came along and swept it all under the carpet by catching him up on his loans too! Wonder how many of his LV Congregation lost their homes during the latest recession? We wondered if their were
any lessons learned? Aparantly not! They feel they deserve more!
Look for yourself and ask --how do they sleep at night?! Just fine unfortunately! Nothing learned not only by them but are they ever accountable to anyone?
So if anyone comes by here and wonders why we are asking questions, researching and gathering evidence that the IRS might find useful, interesting to delve into their records again, o something to look into with a 5013C Status in the balance- it will all be recorded.
As an Attorney told me once it is on the internet it is there forever. Their entitled children think nothing of going to 5 star resorts and endless trips on the tithe money of hardworking congregation attenders. There are no longer real members of these groups because they have no vote, no voice as to how the money is spent. They are not allowed to ask any real accounting questions. Now that Inconvenient Truth!
The internet has become our friend. Even when they seem to go under for a time they just can't help themselves because they are constantly competing with their other Celebrity pastor coursins- friends and its just too much to resist to show how special they are becoming with our tithe money i.e. blessings!
So yes someone needs to ask questions because apparantly their board members --pseudo hand picked Elders are totally powerless to do anything about it. Its ok -we're counting on a Higher Power to sift it all out in the end.

nonCelebrityChristian said...

One more thought Detox who should be commended for having the courage to put it out there and create a valuable record of this injustice - lack of integrity at the very least. These are not just rants but unhappy church members - I mean attenders and tithers contrary to the Celebrity Pastors of the world always claiming this is the case! It actually has taken alot of work to research records they will never know are public knowledge or information that others who leave on staff, boards and in the know find is shocking and need to unburden what they know to others.
The research and ability to put this mosh pit together takes a mind of a Sherlock Holmes and research of an able minded Watson to put it all together. So sorry calling this sour grapes or claiming the bloggers are bitter just won't fly any more. Facts do add up and what they're up to is elementary dear Watson!

NoJoke said...

Ha! I was watching Sherlock last night when you were leaving your comments NonCeleb! (the show Elementary on Channel 2 - i had never watched it before)

If the Christians who feel it's wrong to speak up realized that blogging is actually a compromise between saying nothing at all (while an obvious harmful wrong is going on) and picketting the front of the church with signs that say "Shame on Capital Christian Center", they'd see we are at least trying not to cast a slur on our fellow man who happens to be their beloved pastor/idol.

Casting a slur would be the case if nothing wrong was happening and we just didn't like the Church Across Town. But we aren't the ones collecting money every week and using it for personal reasons. Like you say NonCeleb, instagram photos show the lifestyle. Why would they call themselves the 5-Star Sisters if there was no reason?

We've been asking the Lord HOW LONG is He going to let this go on?!. We want to see true repentance that brings permanent change in behavior, no more beg-a-thons to fund the 5-star resorts; and if not that, then we want to see justice. There is no wrong in that desire - God has put it into the heart of man to seek it, because He is just.

RH said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

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"I'm really proud of Justin" - Judah Smith



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LA said...

I ran across this today. Super interesting. I attended this church in Idaho...and when we left, it was just to attend another church that I believe was mentioned on this blog (Harvest Church formerly Church of the Harvest in Meridian, ID). Keep up the good work and exposing the insanity that happens in places like that.

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