Some Churches Facing “Self Imposed” Financial Hardships
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The civil government is not the only institution having income and spending issues; some churches are having similar difficulties. Society in general is in a financial tailspin, affecting every facet of life. The culprit: we have lost sight of what we need in our pursuit of what we want.
Religious institutions and organizations have been in the news before due to financial excesses, but never before have so many churches faced foreclosure as they do now.
One of these churches, The Family Christian Center of Munster, IN. is listed as the 15th largest church in America by Outreach Magazine. Tuesday the The First National Bank of Illinois filed a mortgage foreclosure case against the church, its pastor, the IRS and Sutton Place Condominiums. Family Christian Center owed the bank $604,447.02 as of Jan. 4 according to court records. The church did own several condos which were used for visiting pastors, but have now been sold.
A NW Indiana Times investigation published Sunday revealed Family Christian Center had been spending millions of dollars annually on leadership compensation, travel, meals and jet fuel, yet fell behind on its mortgage payments and racked up a list of past-due bills.
Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider made the following statement during a Dec. 4 hearing,
“When I saw some of the expenditures being made in this church when there was a mortgage not being paid, I was astounded.”
Since 2010, 270 churches have been sold after defaulting on their loans, according to data compiled by CoStar Group. In comparison, only 24 churches were sold after defaulting in 2008, and even fewer over the previous 10 years.
Dr. Gregory Price, chairman of the department of economics at Morehouse College said,
“The essential problem is that churches are caught up in the same real estate bubble as was housing: overvaluation. Many churches borrowed excessively because of these inflated values. When the financial crisis hit, many parishioners lost their jobs, thus reducing their ability to service the church debt through gifts and tithing.”
The bottom line is the desire for money, power, greed and comfort seem to ignore societal boundaries. Without a restoration of personal ethics, it is only going to become worse.