TAMPA — In a service notable for its unusual content, the Rev. Randy White, pastor of Without Walls International Church, laid bare the church’s financial situation Sunday and its bid to stave off foreclosure of its two campuses.
White told his congregation, once one of the fastest-growing churches in the country, that church leaders would continue trying to negotiate with its lender this week. If those talks fail, they will consider several options, including filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, refinancing or selling the church.
The preacher pledged not to run and asked members to stand with him as he fights.
“I’ll be damned if I’m leaving,” White said. “I promise you this: I will handcuff myself to that column right there because right is right and wrong is wrong. We are a great church, and the devil has tried to take us out every single way that he can.”
Last week, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the California-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union filed foreclosure proceedings against Without Walls, which owes $13-million for its Tampa property and $12.5-million on its Lakeland branch.
The two parties had been negotiating on the terms of the Tampa mortgage for months. But talks broke off recently when White’s lawyers urged him not to sign a loan modification agreement that included stipulations requiring the church to relinquish ownership of its assets, including intellectual property.
In court documents, the credit union said Without Walls was in default on a $1-million line of credit that was due in August. White disputes that claim, and said the church had made arrangements to repay the line of credit from the sale of a $1.4-million piece of property at its Lakeland site.
Like an attorney building a case, White provided documentation Sunday that detailed talks with the credit union. He placed copies of those documents, along with his credit card and personal giving statements, on a table beneath the altar. He invited the congregation and the media to peruse them.
In his 90-minute sermon, White devoted 30 minutes to talk of the foreclosure proceedings. He spent an hour rebutting a series of articles written by the Tampa Tribune about the church over an 18-month period. White said the coverage had cost the church and its affiliates, which include Paula White Ministries, millions of dollars.
Jeff Scullin, Sunday editor at the Tribune, said the newspaper had no comment on White’s remarks.
Tampa, Fla. – A local pastor spent two hours making the case to his congregation. Pastor Randy White addressed members of Without Walls Evangelical Church about allegations that two of its properties are up for foreclosure.
“The bank has filed foreclosure proceedings on this property on the 4th and they said that on the 5th they were gonna file in Lakeland,” said Pastor White.
However, he says there’s no reason to foreclose on the properties because they’ve already sold the land in Lakeland and $1.4 million from that sale will go to the California-based bank within thirty days.
“This church has never been late in seven and a half years. In fact, we gave them more money than any client they had,” he told the congregation.
He says the only reason the bank is filing foreclosure is that he refused to sign a modification agreement that gave all property, furnishings and intellectual rights to the bank.
“The board, of course, and the attorneys, five attorneys, all said do not sign the modification agreement,” he explained.
In addition, the pastor announced that he has begun the groundwork to file a lawsuit against the Tamp Tribune.
“We probably lost thirty percent of our church because of those adverse stories,” he said.
The Tampa Tribune had no comment.
The articles alleged that the pastor was inappropriately spending church dollars on personal expenses.
“God’s blessed me and because he’s been good to me, I was able to give this church since August almost $500,000. You know, even for someone who’s wealthy, it takes a big hit on you,” he said.