Churches face foreclosure in recession’s wake

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At this house of worship on Martin Luther King Drive in S.W. Atlanta, Bishop Ralph Lewis has prayed for members facing tough financial times. Now, they’re all praying for a miracle.

“What does a bank want with a little church like this?”

The Good Shepard New Day Fellowship Church was in good financial shape in 2007. Then, hard times hit the 150 member congregation. Some lost their jobs and donations to the church declined. A year-and-a-half ago the church was hit with a foreclosure notice. Bishop Lewis has been fighting off eviction ever since.

Eviction could come any day now.

“Unlike a business you don’t have a product to sell…consequently, you’re at the mercy of the people and they’re at the mercy of their jobs…and what happens to them effects the church.”

Research by Equity Depot shows at least 90 churches in Georgia have been affected by foreclosure notices since 2006. For some the issue is a lighter offering plate, for others efforts to spend and expand were disrupted by economic struggles.

So Pastor Christopher Chappell invited over a dozen ministers and financial experts from metro-Atlanta to Grace Community Christian Church in Kennesaw for a strategy session on ways to help area churches avoid the pitfall of foreclosure.

“Ministries and churches fail to understand the process of building a good sound budget…it is a faith budget…and sometimes we have to curtail our spending.”

Pastor Chappell is planning a larger conference on foreclosure next month. Bishop Ralph Lewis says he could use the help, clinging to the faith that tells him his church will still have a home next month.

“God will work this out.”

Jerry Carnes
11Alive news