Local church in battle with bank
WTMJ News Team
Cody Holyoke reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
MOUNT PLEASANT- Parishioners say True Life Ministries could be lost following the church's announcement they're considering filing for bankruptcy.
True Life started some 70 years ago Church leaders broke the news to the congregation earlier this week. Their bank wanted to take over the place if the church didn't pay millions of dollars by Thursday.
Pastor Jeff Butler faces a spiritual and financial crisis. "I've been a full-time minister for 30 years. I've never faced anything like this," says Pastor Butler. "This is our new auditorium. You can see, we're not quite traditional."
His newly built church boasts a high-tech home for hundreds of people. The church has plenty of prayer space, and even a daycare. But loan trouble with his bank may derail True Life Ministries' plans for the future.
"Never missed a payment...Never been late on a payment," explained Pastor Butler.
The issue: the money borrowed to spruce up the place. Butler's old bank folded, bought out by Tri City National Bank three years ago and talks to permanently finance the project stalled. Then, Butler says the bank gave him an ultimatum: pay up by today (Thursday) -- or face foreclosure.
"They gave us four working days to come up with close to four million dollars," says Butler.
Butler maintains the bank also froze some of the church's money.
"Payroll checks are bouncing."
The CEO of Tri City National Bank would not comment on the church's finances, only saying "We are willing to work with debtors whenever there is a reasonable proposal."
Butler made an offer to the banks, but wouldn't go into specifics. He does say he -- and his congregation -- are prepared to fight to keep their church open.
Butler is working with a financial consultant to figure out his next steps. Church members are hoping both parties can come to some sort of agreement.