East Manatee church closes doors due to finances

EAST MANATEE -- An East Manatee church has apparently fallen victim to the tough economy, closing its doors after 17 years.

Faced with a debt load it could no longer manage, Faith Christian Church of Manatee County, 5215 Lorraine Road, turned its property over to Community Bank on May 8 and is no longer in operation, according to its website, www.faithchristianchurch.

The church building and property will be up for auction on Tuesday to satisfy the judgment against it, according to the Manatee Clerk of the Court's website.

Community Bank, which had loaned the church money, was awarded a judgment of $817,246.43, the clerk's website also states.

The church struggled with its finances for some time and, by the middle of 2010, the elders and church ministry realized that the church was in difficulty, according to the church website.

In November, 2011, the church missed its first mortgage payment, according to the website.

On Feb. 17, 2011 Pastor Tim Smith was officially served foreclosure papers by Community Bank, Elder Sam Jameson told the congregation at a March 12 meeting.

The website chronicles the church's fight to stay open, including meeting with more than a dozen churches seeking some kind of partnership, plus asking several banks holdings its debts for relief.

A family from Bayside Community Church wanted to buy the property for Bayside's "24/7 Bible Training" program, Jameson told the congregation.

But, in February, Community Bank rejected the offer from the Bayside family, Jameson said.

Unlike some tenants in foreclosure who stay as long as possible, the church decided that was unbiblical.

"As a church that honors God through the Scriptures, we cannot simply stay and take advantage of building and property knowing we cannot pay," Jameson told the congregation.

The church's last official service was Easter Sunday, April 8, according to the website.