Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lender: Tampa's Without Walls seeks bankruptcy to dodge foreclosure

TAMPA — Citing millions in liabilities, Without Walls International Church is seeking bankruptcy protection — a move a major lender asserts in court papers is an attempt to dodge a foreclosure judgment.

The California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union says the Tampa megachurch owes it $29 million. It calls Without Walls' filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 5 a "litigation tactic" to prevent foreclosure on the W Columbus Drive church and also a shuttered church in Polk County.

Without Walls defaulted on its loans before the bankruptcy filing and the credit union began foreclosure proceedings in October 2012, according to the motion filed Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The bankruptcy court has denied the credit union's request to move forward on the foreclosure case, said Michael J. Hooi, an attorney representing the church. Without Walls said in court documents filed Tuesday that the credit union's request was baseless.

Another hearing on the issue is scheduled for April, when the court may schedule a trial if the matter isn't resolved, Hooi said.

Without Walls filed a counterclaim to the foreclosure action in October 2012, alleging that the credit union schemed to prevent the sale of the church by encouraging pastor Randy White's former wife — Paula White — to take sound equipment from Without Walls to another church.

Paula White currently is senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka, near Orlando.

In this week's filing, the credit union said the church's counterclaim was "spurious at best."

The credit union also alleges in court documents that the church pulled out of a deal last year that would have sold its property in Tampa to the Richman Group of Florida for $12.6 million, but that the church "refused to close on that sale at the last second."

The church lists an estimated $10 million to $50 million in both assets and liabilities, according to its petition. A Chapter 11 filing typically lets businesses continue to operate and come up with a plan for paying creditors.

The 12,000-member church was established in 1991. About 4,000 members attend one or more of its three weekly services at the Tampa site, according to the church. White, who resigned as senior pastor in 2009 because of what he called health concerns, returned to Without Walls in July 2012.

Without Walls once boasted 22,000 members and was among the fastest-growing congregations in the country. But half its members left after the Whites' 2007 divorce, and the church also has endured tough media scrutiny, an inquiry into its finances led by U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and the ongoing foreclosure issue.

Lender: Tampa's Without Walls seeks bankruptcy to dodge foreclosure 03/13/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 13, 2014 11:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Rays' Kevin Cash doesn't mind following in Joe Maddon's steps

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — On this particular night, he's the other guy. He's like a talk-show guest scooted to the end of the couch. He is Kevin Cash. And the Rays manager is standing in the home dugout at Tropicana Field.

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 17: Manager Kevin Cash (L) of the Tampa Bay Rays reacts to action during the game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field on September 17, 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Joseph Garnett Jr./Getty Images) 700012494
  2. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 139, collapses buildings in Mexico

    World

    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 139 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  3. Hurricane Maria's winds hit 175 mph as it aims at Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria barreled toward Puerto Rico on Tuesday night after wreaking widespread devastation on Dominica and leaving the small Caribbean island virtually …

    A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  4. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  5. Hillsborough School Board approves 2017-18 budget

    K12

    TAMPA — The Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget of $2.83 billion for the 2017-18 school year.

    Photo illustration. [iStockphoto.com]