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Stressed Economy Leads to Foreclosures on Faith

Is your faith being foreclosed on? If you're among the churchgoers of hundreds of churches which are facing foreclosure, the answer may be yes. Banks, it seems are losing patience much more rapidly with religious groups and are foreclosing on their mortgages in near record numbers.

The financial crash that has taken place in recent years, most notably in 2008 is causing foreclosures which are still taking place. They are, in fact, happening far more rapidly in 2010 and 2011 than church based foreclosures have ever taken place before.

In many cases banks were willing to grant some forbearance to churches and faith owned properties, but that is no longer the case. There is a near wave of church foreclosures taking place which seems to be affecting churches from nearly every state in the United States.

More than 250 churches have been sold since 2010, with most of them being sold as foreclosures, the impetus for the sales being a  mortgage default that was  triggered  by the lender.
Solid Rock Christian Church , which is located near Memphis Tennessee had originally taken out a $2.9 million  dollar loan from the  Evangelical Christian Credit Union. The church took the loan out in the first quarter of  2008, to build a brand new, 34,000 square-foot church that would seat more than 2000 people.  Just months later the economy crashed and the church had to dip into their savings in order to complete the structure, but in the end they defaulted on the loan. The credit union foreclosed and the church was set up for auction.

Spokesmen for the church said that they are still fighting.  "We have filed for bankruptcy to stop this foreclosure and to restructure our debt."

Charles Street African American Episcopal Church, which is located in Boston, Massachusetts, is quite literally an icon in the area and each of the churchgoers as well as the church clergy are accusing the bank of being completely unwilling to negotiate with them to save the church.
In 2011 alone nearly 150 churches were sold by banks. This was a new record and there are no sighs that the foreclosures on religious buildings are going to abate any time soon. All denominations are being hit and churches of all race, color, and creed are currently being lost to foreclosure. Many were purchased by other religious organizations, but some have been sold to private parties.

The vast majority of them have been in the states of Michigan, Florida, Georgia, and California. Scott Rolfs, director of the Religious and Education Finance department at the Ziegler investment bank states that "Churches are among the final institutions to get foreclosed upon because banks have not wanted to look like they are being heavy handed with the churches,

Most churches have a maturity of just five years. Typically the refinance at that time, however lately regulators are being pressured to clean up balance sheets, according to Rolfs, which means that more and more banks are simply foreclosing on the churches and taking what they can get for them.

What they fail to take into account are the people involved in these churches. Congregations which have spent their entire lives together are now being split apart, rending not just the congregation, but in some cases, their faith as well. This, in turn, is making banks look even more heavy-handed than they have in the past.

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