Methodist church to close after seven-year financial struggle

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2002

BRANDYWINE, Md. (AP) -- A once-thriving United Methodist congregation has decided to close at the end of this month after a seven-year controversy over its finances.

Leaders of Gibbons-Resurrection United Methodist Church decided to surrender their property after realizing it could pay only about two-thirds of the $4.5 million it owed bondholders, the United Methodist News Service reported.

The church's woes date back to 1995 when the congregation began selling bonds for a multimillion-dollar building project. It was soon mired in financial problems that were blamed in part on mismanagement by the first construction manager.

The Rev. C. Anthony Muse, who was pastor at the time, then accused the denomination's leaders of failing to fully back the project. Methodist leaders denied the accusation, saying they had given him more than $1 million. But Muse left in November 1999, taking most of his congregation with him.

''The cumulative burden of excessive debt, the uncertainty about the congregation's future and the lingering legacy of abandonment by the previous congregation have left a stigma that will last for years to come,'' said the Rev. Rodney Smothers, the church's current pastor.


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