Richmond Christian Center decision to be made Nov. 20

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 11/10/2017, 6:57 p.m.
The future of the Richmond Christian Center’s 5-acre property in South Side is to be determined on Monday, Nov. 20. ...
Richmond Christian Center at 214 Cowardin Ave. in South Side. Sandra Sellars/Richmond Free Press

The future of the Richmond Christian Center’s 5-acre property in South Side is to be determined on Monday, Nov. 20.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Keith L. Phillips set the new date Tuesday after an attorney for RCC’s court appointed trustee, Bruce H. Matson, said the trustee needed just a day or two more to decide between two potential buyers.

A decision was expected to be announced at Tuesday’s hearing. But Mr. Matson’s attorney, Christopher L. Perkins, said the trustee’s decision would be filed with the court this week and assured Judge Phillips that he would be able to approve the motion and issue an order for the property’s sale at the upcoming hearing.

Mr. Perkins said both parties seeking to purchase the South Side tract have provided acceptable contracts that would ensure creditors, including RCC’s lender, Foundation Capital Resources, are fully paid. The sale would wrap up a four-year bankruptcy process.

The parties vying for the property at 214 Cowardin Ave. that RCC has occupied since 1986 include Richmond-based United Nations Church International and Richmond apartment developer Genesis Properties LLC.

Mr. Perkins did not disclose any details about the offers from each bidder.

Kevin Funk, RCC’s attorney, said his client would merge with UNCI if the trustee selects the church as the purchaser. He said he and current trustees of RCC are optimistic that Mr. Matson will want to maintain the property as a religious institution.

Meanwhile, Stephen A. Parson, RCC’s ousted founding pastor, told Judge Phillips that he would oppose any sale of the property on Nov. 20.

He claimed in court RCC’s trustees “fraudulently” transferred the deed to their control on Oct. 14. He alleged that he should have been required to approve the transfer as an original trustee for RCC’s 1985 purchase of the property.

Mr. Parson also noted that because the RCC plan to emerge from bankruptcy was “never consummated,” the church’s status should revert to the pre-bankruptcy state when he was in charge.

He said that he has a lender ready to advance funds to pay off RCC’s lender, but claims that his efforts to get his plan to refinance the property before the court have been “sabotaged” by Mr. Matson and others.

Judge Phillips urged Mr. Parson to secure an attorney before making his argument on Nov. 20.

Rhonda Hickman, the chair of RCC’s three-member board of trustees, said the transfer of the property’s title was undertaken with the advice of attorneys and was done legally.

However, Mr. Parson, who still insists he is the pastor of RCC, said he would not allow “the property to be stolen. This is an important issue, and if necessary, I will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.”

Separately, Mr. Parson has filed suit in Richmond Circuit Court alleging the RCC trustees wrongly transferred the title without permission. He also is seeking a court order reversing the transfer.

The suit was filed Nov. 1, but the papers have not been served on Ms. Hickman and the other RCC trustees, Calvin Yarborough and Raymond Partridge, according to the information posted on the Circuit Court’s information system.