This is one of the most un-Christian acts I have ever seen from a religious denomination that claims to be Christian.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Paramus has owned their church building and property since 1929. They have no debts and have money in the bank. Their building and property are worth well over half a million dollars.
In the 1990s, the church was considering the possibility of becoming affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. Representatives from the district office visited the church who afterwards voted to join the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination. An elderly man in the church asked the representatives about the reversionary clause and was assured that the denomination would never use this clause except in cases of a church split, false teaching or if the church closed its doors.
After the vote, the church heard nothing from the denomination for some time. They never received any official documentation acknowledging their membership. C&MA has never given the Paramus church a single penny or offered any other form of help.
Since the church was built in 1929, it was in need of repairs, so their pastor, Joseph Smaha, offered to purchase the parsonage from the church so the church could use the money to make necessary repairs. Several years later, Smaha contacted the district office to ask for spiritual guidance in dealing with a church disciplinary matter. When the district representative arrived, he commented about how shocked he was to see the church looking so nice.
Not long after the district representative’s visit, the church was notified that the district office of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church had decided to exercise their ‘reversionist’ clause to take full and sole possession of the church, property and all assets of the Paramus congregation. They claimed the church was not a viable congregation, ignoring the fact that Smaha had helped the church grow from only 10 members to 100 hundred and it was still growing.
The church hired an attorney and took the case to the courts, but the courts ruled that the denomination had the legal right to their actions and the congregation was ordered to vacate the premises. However, out of the kindness of their heart, the denomination officials allowed the congregation to hold their Christmas service in the church before being evicting them.
In the process of losing his church, Smaha has discovered that their loss to the Christian and Missionary Alliance denomination is not a unique event. It appears that the C&MA has been seizing a number of other churches and then selling off their buildings and properties and assets.
The community support for Smaha and his congregation has been overwhelming. Several local churches have offered them use of their buildings and a number of other secular buildings have also been offered to the congregation to meet in. Pastor Smaha has vowed that his church will not die and that they will continue, despite the denomination’s theft of their building, property and assets.
James Sundquist has studied the C&MA and noted,
“It’s interesting that they only close down ‘debt-free’ congregations. You don’t usually see them take this action with a church that rents space every Sunday.
Bernie Madoff has got nothing on these guys.”
There was one church that managed to avoid the hostile takeover of their church by the C&MA. The church in Chester, PA is pastored by Joe Broz. Although Broz managed to save the church building and property, most of the congregation left because they believed the church was going to close.
During his legal battle with the denomination, Pastor Broz was involved in an auto accident in which he received serious injuries. Broz’s son, who works as an EMT, notified Wayne Spriggs, the C&MA district superintendent and asked him to pray for his father because at the time, things did not look good for him. It was later learned that Spriggs didn’t notify anyone else about the prayer request because he had already revoked Broz’s preaching credentials and said,
“We didn’t owe you any prayer.”
Prior to his legal battle with the C&MA, the denomination invoked the reversionist clause to seize a church in Malvern, PA. The C&MA gave that pastor and his wife who was 8 months pregnant, only one week to pack up and move. Members of Broz’s congregation dug deep into their pockets to help support the Malvern pastor and his family. The C&MA ended up selling the Malvern church and property to another church.
Theological differences aside, I believe this so-called Christian denomination is anything but Christian due to their actions of stealing churches from debt free congregations. Their actions go beyond the realm of religious freedom and they need to be investigated for fraud or any other charges that can be leveled against them and they need to be made to pay restitution to every church and congregation that they have raped over the years.
Someone also needs to notify every C&MA congregation in the country and warn them about the denomination’s history of stealing churches and leaving congregations with nothing.