Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Church pulls out of financial nosedive

TAMPA — Four months ago, the future of Without Walls seemed in peril because of financial troubles, but this week the church rebounded from foreclosure proceedings.

Church leaders signed a new loan with its California lender Monday, senior pastor Randy White said.

"I'm very, very delighted," White said. "It was a great victory for our church and for our people that we don't have that pressure under us like we did have before."

The California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union filed foreclosure proceedings against Without Walls in November after it said the church defaulted on a $1 million loan. White disputed that claim, saying the church was always current on its payments.

The pastor said talks broke down in the fall over loan modification agreements presented by the credit union that included provisions forbidding the church from filing for bankruptcy. Without Walls leaders also would have been required to relinquish ownership of the church's intellectual property.

Without Walls officials refused to accept the loan modifications and soon found themselves facing foreclosure.

The credit union, which holds the mortgages on the church's Grady Avenue property and on its Lakeland branch, called in loans on both sites. Without Walls has four loans, and owes $13 million on its Tampa property and $12.5 million on the Lakeland site, church officials have said.

In November, White accused the credit union of unfair lending practices and surmised that the company was moving to foreclose because it wanted to sell the church's property for a profit. Credit union officials denied that claim, saying they were not interested in real estate sales and had negotiated fairly with Without Walls for months before taking legal action.

Now, White said he was likely wrong about the credit union's motives because the credit union did not approach a developer who was trying to buy Without Walls' Tampa property.

Officials at the credit union could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Under the terms of the new agreement, White said, the church would retain the rights to its intellectual property, which includes books and recordings.

The deal also converts the loan payments on the church's Tampa property to interest-only loans. For those loans, the church would pay about $59,000 a month, the church's chief financial officer Debbie Pullen said. Monthly mortgage payments on the Lakeland property will remain at nearly $70,000 a month. Full payment on the loans on both sites come due in July 2010.

White said the new deal gives the church time to prepare to refinance or to sell some of its assets, including its Grady Avenue headquarters. White said he continues to entertain offers for the site, most recently from medical professionals.

If the property were sold, the Tampa congregation would either merge with its sister church in Lakeland or build a new sanctuary in Tampa debt free, White said.

For the battle-scarred pastor, who has in the last two years seen church attendance drop rapidly, gone through a divorce with his wife and lost one of his daughters to brain cancer, the new loans represent another chance.

"It's very exciting," he said. "Lord knows our church has been through a lot in 18 months. … It kind of gives everybody a sigh of relief. We can now focus on what we're called to do."

Sherri Day can be reached at or (813) 226-3405.

Church pulls out of financial nosedive 03/04/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 4, 2009 11:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor's race has been making headlines for nearly two months as Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker have been making speeches, pressing the flesh at fundraisers and gathering their ground forces for an election battle that has already broken fundraising records.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  2. Tampa moves to pause permits for 5G wireless equipment to assess impact of new Florida law


    To business groups, the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed Friday will clear the way for superfast 5G wireless communications and give Florida an edge in attracting high-tech companies.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local officials have worried that a new state law aimed at facilitating the installation of 5G wireless technology could clutter scenic corridors like Tampa's Riverwalk.
  3. Trump takes another swipe at CNN after resignations over retracted Russia story


    NEW YORK — President Donald Trump used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network's credibility Tuesday.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Clearwater woman dies after losing control of SUV, flipping in Palm Harbor


    A Clearwater woman died early Tuesday morning when she lost control of her SUV and crashed in Palm Harbor, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Countryside alum A.J. Andrews lands in ESPN's annual body issue


    A.J. Andrews has taken over the spotlight in softball. Last year, the former Countryside High and LSU standout became the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year existence.

    Former LSU/Countryside softball player AJ Andrews, now w/ Akron, is the first female to win a Rawlings Gold Glove in the award's 59-year history. (Courtesy of Rawlings)