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Seabreeze Church in the News

John on March 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

From the AP, a follow up to the story the NY Times did a couple months ago:

Foreclosures and delinquencies for congregations are rising, according to companies that specialize in church mortgages. With credit scarce, church construction sites have gone quiet, holding shells of sanctuaries that were meant to be completed months ago.

Congregants have less money to give, and pastors who stretched to buy property in the boom are struggling to hold onto their churches.

“The economy has dramatically changed over the last year to 18 months in a way that very few, if any, had expected,” said John Stoffel, administrative pastor at Seabreeze Church in Huntington Beach, Calif.

At the mercy of lenders
Seabreeze spent about $12 million on a new complex that was completed in 2007. But a drop in donations, partly due to a rift between the pastor and some church members, forced the church to renegotiate for an interest-only mortgage. Stoffel said Seabreeze hasn’t missed a payment, yet the mortgage is far from the church’s only debt. The church also owes $1.2 million — due this year — on bonds that helped finance the project, and must repay a $200,000 loan that a couple took out on their house to help Seabreeze cover its costs.

Unlike the Times and the Orange County Register, author Rachel Zoll managed to get beyond the easy answers the church has been issuing for months. Her comment that a rift was “partly” to blame is an improvement, though in fact the rift is almost entirely to blame. The church was in the black for 2007. The downturn began with the firings which the congregation became aware of in early 2008.

Also, the story of the $200K loan finally appeared in print. Left out is the fact that the family in question has spent a year corresponding with the church by phone and letter, trying to get the money returned. The church has strung them along a few weeks at a time, promising to repay early, but never following through. This is the real story of how they survived the downturn, by refusing to repay equity on an ex-member’s home.

Still, this article is a big improvment over the previous efforts. At least some portion of the truth made it into print. And because this is the AP, this article appears all over including Newsweek, the Seattle Times, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post and many others.

The truth will out.

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Category: Religion & Faith |

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