Churches Become the Latest Victims of Foreclosure

January 25, 2011  |  

By Brittany Hutson

The country is still reeling from residential and commercial real-estate properties falling into foreclosure, but the banks are going to have even messier plates due to recent reports that a number of churches are struggling to keep their doors open.

According to The Wall Street Journal, many churches borrowed too much or built too big during boom times and now are struggling to repay their debts as membership and collections shrink. Real-estate services firm CoStar Group Inc. stated that nearly 200 religious facilities have been foreclosed on since 2008. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. told the Journal that “churches are the next wave in this economic crisis.”

Many churches that are in trouble are located in states such as California, Florida, Georgia and Michigan. In fact, it was reported at the top of the year that the oldest black church in DeKalb County, Georgia—Flat Rock Community Church—had to shut its doors due to foreclosure proceedings.

Though all churches, regardless of religious denominations, are suffering, in the case of the black community, these struggling churches reflect how blacks have been disproportionately impacted by the economic downturn. Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote that with the black community having less wealth to fall back on, it causes a ripple in the community because not only do individuals and families suffer, but it also affects the ability to sustain institutions such as churches and universities.

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