Hobby Lobby Inc., an evangelical Christian retail business, has announced that it will donate a piece of property to a Chicago megachurch.
The Oklahoma City-based crafts company decided to give Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago the vacant site that once housed a cosmetics business known as Johnson Products.
"On New Year's Eve, we got a life-changing phone call to let us know they were committed to formally and officially donating the property – with no consideration," said the Rev. Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship, to the Chicago Sun-Times.
"As our church has grown, we were seeking to expand in a meaningful and holistic way to meet multiple needs, multiple issues and multiple ills in our community … When Hobby Lobby learned of our vision, they were elated."
Jenkins told the Sun Times that Fellowship Missionary Baptist intended to build several facilities on the property, including a school, restaurant, and a couple retail shops.
Hobby Lobby's decision to give Fellowship the property is not the only recent example of their donating property to Christian ministries.
In late December 2012, Hobby Lobby donated a 217-acre property in Northfield, Mass., to the National Christian Foundation, a Georgia-based charity.
According to Charisma News, the plan of both Hobby Lobby and NCF is for the property to someday be turned into a Christian institution.
"We're committed to maintaining the spirit with which the campus was founded," said Aimee Minnich, president of NCF's office in Olathe, Kan., in an email to Charisma News. "So our first intent would be to find an educational institution as the final owner of the property."
The donations come as Hobby Lobby continues its legal battle against the controversial abortion pill mandate in the courts.
Days before the New Year, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected an emergency injunction on behalf of Hobby Lobby as the suit against the HHS Department's mandate continued. As a result, since Jan. 1, Hobby Lobby has had to pay $1.3 million daily in fines for not providing the abortifacient Plan B to its employees.
Despite the fines, Hobby Lobby has refused to begin providing Plan B coverage while their suit goes through the legal process. Last week, supporters of the business took part in "Hobby Lobby Appreciation Day."
According to statements provided to the media, Hobby Lobby Inc. has denied that these donations are in any way connected to their legal issues.