A congregation losing its house of worship, once a rare event, is now common in Colorado — part of a national trend of record foreclosures on churches.
The real-estate information company CoStar Group looked at five years of distressed church sales and found only a handful of foreclosures nationwide prior to 2008, when the number jumped to 24. In 2009, the figure was 67.
CoStar Group spokeswoman Angela Brown said the market saw a big spike in 2010 with 135 churches sold after a lender-initiated foreclosure. In 2011, there were 138 such sales.
The states with the highest percentages of forced church sales often were those with some of the worst home-foreclosure rates, including California, Florida and Michigan.
In Colorado, church real-estate specialist Todd Whittaker, president of Service Realty Inc. in Denver, says church foreclosures occur with some regularity now.
Lookout Mountain Community Church lost its Golden home of the past decade after the senior pastor’s exit and a split in the congregation made the debt load impossible to carry. The Evangelical Presbyterian congregation is now meeting in the nearby Evergreen Country Day School.
“You have to move on, but it’s quite a struggle,” the Rev. Bill Senyard said. “There’s a cost. It’s personal. It’s emotional. The church wonders if it’s a failure. There’s shame. We wanted to pay the debt back. We worked hard. We made sacrifices. In the end, we just couldn’t.”
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SOURCE: The Denver Post