Feb. 26--Dorchester'sGreater Love Tabernacle Church won bankruptcy court approval yesterday for a fundraising campaign to help refinance its mortgage.
Donations raised will be protected from the church's creditors, including its Texas mortgage holder, VFC Partners 18 LLC. They'll be held in escrow and must be returned to donors if the church fails to refinance or restructure its approximately $700,000 loan.
Greater Love, which held a January interfaith service to raise community awareness about its troubles, already has raised nearly $61,000, according to its pro bono attorney, John Morrier. It has not set a fundraising goal, he said.
"My heart was overwhelmed when I saw the amount of support and people that came to our interfaith service," Pastor William E. Dickerson II said. "It's refreshing to know the work and labor of this church has not gone in vain."
Another fundraiser/service is set for March 30, and Dickerson said he's confident the financial issues will be resolved.
The 24-year-old church filed for bankruptcy protection in December with about $803,000 in debt after being threatened with foreclosure. It fell into financial trouble after signing a 2010 lease for a nearby site on which it hoped to build a community center. But the church was unable to raise needed funds for the project, and the monthly lease payments -- which ran as high as $4,800 -- caused it to fall behind on mortgage payments for the church, court documents state.
Phoenix Management Services is working pro bono to stabilize the church's financial management, Morrier said. The lease for the undeveloped land expired at the beginning of the year, and is "no longer an issue," he said.
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