A chapter of the Occupy Wall Street movement may have helped a historic black church in Georgia get a modified loan, thereby saving the church from foreclosure.
Higher Ground Empowerment Center was given a second chance at avoiding foreclosure when BB&T agreed to craft a resolution that would allow the congregation to remain at the church, which has been open since 1903.
“BB&T is committed to continue to work with the Church until there is a mutually agreeable solution,” said David White of Corporate Communications for BB&T in a statement.
“BB&T has no intent to evict the Church from the property. We fully expect to reach a final resolution with the Church early next week.”
Due to damage caused by a tornado in 2008, Higher Ground Empowerment Center took out a large loan to repair their sanctuary. However, as time passed, the congregation had a hard time raising the money necessary to pay off the loan by the deadline.
News of the BB&T bank intending to foreclose on the church came as America was preparing to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Rebuild the Dream, a website run by a group focused on fighting many bank foreclosures, posted a petition demanding that BB&T’s CEO Kelly King stop the foreclosure of the church.
“If this church is foreclosed, it will have a domino effect on the rest of the community,” reads the Rebuild The Dream website.
“Higher Ground Empowerment Center is not asking for a bailout. For four years, they’ve simply been asking BB&T to modify their loan to something more reasonable, based on the property’s fair value.”
In response to the outcry, Occupy Atlanta, which had used the church as a place for meetings, demonstrated against the bank.
“Occupy Atlanta has jumped in to support the Higher Ground Empowerment Center and the Vine City community,” said Rebuild the Dream on its website.
“They’ve brought valuable attention to this situation and the bank is showing that they’re paying attention.”
One of the oldest churches in Atlanta, Higher Ground Empowerment Center is located in the Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was raised.
Neither Occupy Atlanta nor Higher Ground Empowerment Center could be reached for comment by press time.