By Ryan Velez
The Richmond Christian Center filed for bankruptcy some two years ago, following two years in bankruptcy limbo. Now, the church has found a buyer, with the front-runner in the purchase deal being a Midlothian church. On Friday, the trustee in charge of the Richmond Christian Center’s Chapter 11, filed an urgent motion seeking to sell RCC’s Manchester real estate holdings to United Nations Church International for $2.9 million.
According to bankruptcy paperwork, UNCI will be selling its home at 5200 Midlothian Turnpike and moving the church’s 700-member congregation to RCC’s main building at 214 Cowardin Avenue. Terms of the agreement dictate that UNCI has to close the two deals by December 15 and is expected to submit a $200,000 deposit towards the purchase this week.
Interestingly, the buyer has since September of this year been holding their services in the RCC building and there have been talks of a possible merger of the two churches, reveals the filings.
If the deal goes through, UNCI shall have bested Genesis Properties, a local developer that had targeted the properties and was already in talks with the trustee over the recent weeks.
The Cowardin place of worship was initially a car dealership. Now, the sanctuary forms the centerpiece of RCC’s real estate holdings, characterized mainly with unoccupied residential and commercial units, spread over about 5 acres, worth $4 million in assessed value.
The properties in question were used as collateral in a loan from Foundation Capital Resources. Both the lender and main creditor have over the recent past been actively seeking to foreclose RCC’s holdings. This came about after the church failed to hit its revenue targets thus making it impossible for the church to comply with its court-approved plan for bankruptcy reorganization.
Should the sale and merger plans go through, it shall bring to an end RCC’s struggle with bankruptcy that has been hanging on for about four years.
Ironically, RCC was once considered a megachurch and was expected to grow. Unfortunately, the church started having financial troubles back in 2013, the time FCR threatened the church with foreclosure after the church defaulted in paying its loan. Come November 22, 2013, then Pastor Stephen Parson Sr., who founded RCC in his home back in the 1980s, applied for Chapter 11 of bankruptcy protection.
Ever since the church’s troubles started, Parson has remained a controversial figure in the church.
He was even purged out of the church leadership as a condition for proceeding with the bankruptcy plans, a condition FCR didn’t want to bulge on. Terms of the plan were that as long as FCR remained the holder of the loan to RCC, Parson wasn’t allowed to be involved in the affairs of the church.
Parson has struggled tirelessly to regain full control of the church, pointing out that the church’s articles of incorporation are clear that he’d be a lifetime pastor of the church. He went ahead to submit his arguments for formal consideration before the court. He still insists he’s the rightful owner of the church.