$29M Church Default Heads to Auction

Credit Union Times, New York/June 16, 2014

By Michelle A. Samaad

Plagued by a bankruptcy and mounting, unpaid code enforcement fines, a Florida church that received a loan from Evangelical Christian Credit Union in 2008 is up for auction.

According to local media reports, sealed bids for Without Walls Central Church in North Lakeland, Fla., are due by July 7. The auction is scheduled for July 8.

Without Walls Central is owned by the Tampa, Fla.-based Without Walls International Church, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection March 5 owing $29 million to the $1 billion Evangelical Christian in Brea, Calif.

Without Walls International had defaulted on its loans prior to the bankruptcy filing. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court denied the credit union’s Dec. 31, 2013 request to move forward on a foreclosure case that began in October 2012.

The auction order was signed in April by Judge Michael Williamson of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tampa, according to The Ledger.com.

It is still possible that Evangelical Christian could regain ownership of the property because it is listed as a qualified bidder for the upcoming auction, the publication noted.

A comment from the credit union was not immediately available.

In addition to owing Lakeland Electric more than $5,200, Without Walls International has accrued nearly $30,000 in code enforcement fines from the city of Lakeland, Fla.

In its bankruptcy petition, the mega church said it had an estimated $10 million to $50 million in liabilities and assets.

Without Walls International initially went into foreclosure with Evangelical Christian in 2008. In 2009, the credit union approved a mortgage modification for the church.

In October 2012, Without Walls International filed a complaint against Evangelical Christian seeking more than $23.8 million with claims that the credit union acted inappropriately towards the church's founder, Randy White, by allowing his ex-wife, Paula White, to take more than $2 million worth of video and music equipment from the church to use for her own ministry. Paula White was hired as a senior pastor at another Florida church.

Without Walls International had previously said Evangelical Christian allegedly made false statements about the church in order to thwart a deal initiated by Randy White to sell the property.

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