University to purchase Freeman homes

Whitworthian, Washington/November 8, 2009

Whitworth is currently in the process of buying three houses near campus owned by Bill and Pat Freeman, leaders of a small religious group.

"[The purchase agreement] will probably close sometime this month," said Brian Benzel, vice president for finance and administration. "We will probably have full ownership in December."

The houses are located at 114 W. Hawthorne Road, 118 W. Hawthorne Road and 205 W. Hawthorne Road.

The property

Discussions about Whitworth buying the Freemans' houses first began in September, Benzel said. The purchase details were reviewed with the Board of Trustees during their visit in October, he said. Since the purchase agreement is not yet closed, details of the purchase are still unavailable.

Owning the houses is viewed as a "strategic acquisition" for the university, Benzel said.

"It will bring good options and opportunities in the long term," he said.

There are no solid plans for use of the properties at this point, although it is possible some of the houses may be used as theme houses, Benzel said.

"There are no plans to use them in other than their present state," he said.

The Freemans

The Freemans purchased the houses in 2004, according to a Feb. 15, 2005 article in The Whitworthian. They have since spent a lot of time renovating and refurbishing them, Benzel said.

Their arrival in Spokane caused many former members of their religious group to contact the university with concerns about the Freemans. This prompted the university to send out an all-campus e-mail in February 2005 informing students of the concerns they had heard, according the article in The Whitworthian.

In a series of articles in The Whitworthian that year, many sources claimed the Freemans were manipulative and controlling. One source said in an e-mail, "Many will confirm that the Freemans have caused more damage and destruction to innocent Christians and innocent children than any other church leaders they have ever known."

However, many followers of the Freemans' ministry denied these accusations, saying the Freemans were ministers of God's word. One longtime friend of the Freemans said that Bill Freeman, a Fuller Seminary graduate, was "one of the greatest Bible teachers I have ever heard. He inspired people."

In a November 2008 interview with The Whitworthian, Pat Freeman said their group has no formal affiliation with any church.

"Whoever wants to hear the Gospel can hear it," she said in the interview. "We're just Christian people, loving the Lord and we want some part of Christ to be testified."

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