WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Several times this past week, people arriving for services at D.C.’s Beulah Baptist Church have had to confront members and former members holding protest signs – like Deaconess Delores Brown.
"We're concerned about the auctioning of our church," she says.
Brown is talking about this auction notice in the February 1 issue of the Washington Post about the “sale of a building currently used as a church” – set for February 11.
"The church was supposed to be free and clear of any debt," says churchgoer Alva Hines.
Until six years ago, Pastor Marcus Turner reportedly used the church as collateral to borrow $3.2 million from the Columbia Bank.
Members started digging and found that Turner happens to be the President and Chairman of BCI: the Beulah Community Improvement Corporation. They also discovered that a church trustee had sold the church to BCI for $10.
"If I looked at it personally, I would say it's an affront to the people," says Kijafa Parker.
With the millions in loan money, the BCI was actually paying the pastor in addition to working on a development deal with the city that ultimately fell apart. Then there was additional financial trouble, when the auction was called by SMS Financial Phoenix, which acquired the loan.
But before the February 11 deadline date, the auction was suddenly cancelled. Neither the pastor nor the lender will tell us why – nor do longtime members of the church know.
"We want to know what happened to the money, we want to know how the building was used for collateral and why we weren't told early on," says Alva Hines.
Until they know, the protests will likely continue.