Pastor Hails Without Walls Foreclosure Deal

Tampa Bay Online/March 9, 2009

Tampa - Without Walls International Church escaped the specter of foreclosure after its lender agreed to drop demands for control of its books, tapes and other intellectual property, Pastor Randy White said today.

White, the church's founder, told his congregation during this morning's service that the California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union had agreed to a modified loan agreement Wednesday that took the church out of foreclosure.

The church defaulted on a $1 million loan due in August, prompting the credit union to begin foreclosure proceedings in November.

The foreclosure proceedings included another $24.5 million in loans for the Tampa ministry, headquartered at 2511 N. Grady Ave., and its Lakeland branch.

"That's a miracle in today's economy," White said.

At a press conference after the service, White said attorneys had been negotiating since the lender announced the foreclosure but met a logjam on the credit union's insistence the church give up rights to its intellectual property including its name, all tapes and books.

The church's attorneys told him not to agree to the demand, White said. "That's your birthright," he said.

The restructured agreement also calls for interest-only payments and no penalties, White told reporters.

The credit union announced the modified loan agreement last week but disclosed few details.

White said the settlement caught him by surprise.

The church has outgrown its Tampa location, which is still for sale, and would like to build a facility that's free of debt, White said.

Without Walls has tried for about a year to sell its Tampa property, housed in a former Canada Dry headquarters, and its campus in Lakeland, the former 10,000-seat Carpenters Home Church.

The church last week hired back three of seven employees laid off about two months ago, White said today. The seven people who lost their jobs make up about a quarter of the church's staff.

He also said that the church had hired a Beverly Hills lawyer to explore a lawsuit against The Tampa Tribune.

From the pulpit and in statements, White has blamed critics and the credit union for trying to bring down the church.

White said the church had never missed a payment in nearly eight years. The credit union was desperate to seize the potentially lucrative properties because the bank itself was at risk for going under, he said.

The credit union, which manages $3.4 billion in assets, is among the most financially sound lenders in the nation, spokesman Jac La Tour has said.

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