Sevierville church surrenders $9M building to avoid foreclosure

Sevierville church surrenders $9M building to avoid foreclosure

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The Gathering Church had been located on more than 30 acres along Middle Creek Road in Sevierville for around five years. The Gathering Church had been located on more than 30 acres along Middle Creek Road in Sevierville for around five years.
Church members are transforming the old Bob Nelson Comedy Club into a family ministries building, putting in new carpets inside and setting up a new sign outside. Church members are transforming the old Bob Nelson Comedy Club into a family ministries building, putting in new carpets inside and setting up a new sign outside.
"Our giving went down while our attendance went up," said Executive Pastor Tom Weekley. "Our giving went down while our attendance went up," said Executive Pastor Tom Weekley.
The church will now hold its Sunday services at the Grand Majestic Theater in Pigeon Forge, which sits right next to their new family ministries location. The church will now hold its Sunday services at the Grand Majestic Theater in Pigeon Forge, which sits right next to their new family ministries location.
"In your heart, you know it's not really the building. It's the people and the heart of the people," church member Wanda Rogers said. "In your heart, you know it's not really the building. It's the people and the heart of the people," church member Wanda Rogers said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - One of the biggest churches in Sevier County has surrendered a multi-million dollar worship center to a local bank in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

The Gathering Church had been located on more than 30 acres along Middle Creek Road in Sevierville for around five years.

The church was forced to surrender its building because it wasn't able to pay for its expenses, but they've found a new and much more affordable spot just five miles away.

Church members are getting ready for their new locations. They're transforming the old Bob Nelson Comedy Club into a family ministries building, putting in new carpets inside and setting up a new sign outside.

The pastor says the church could no longer cover the cost of the building.

"Our giving went down while our attendance went up," said Executive Pastor Tom Weekley.

Pastor Weekley says over the last several years, church members haven't been able to donate as much as they used to because of the sluggish economy.

"A lot of our members were hurt deeply economically, and just couldn't give what was pledged and what was promised before," he said.

The pastor says the church gave the old building back to the bank, which according to financial records, is worth about $9 million.

The church will now hold its Sunday services at the Grand Majestic Theater in Pigeon Forge, which sits right next to their new family ministries location.

The owner of the theater says the church has a month-to-month lease to use the facilities.

"Our box office is open on Sundays, but we don't use the auditorium. So, we thought it might be a great thing," said theater owner Douglas Miranda.

Wanda Rogers has been going to the church off and on for about two years now. She says while there is a sense of sadness to lose their old location, the church is instead focusing on their new path ahead.

"In your heart, you know it's not really the building. It's the people and the heart of the people," she said.

The Gathering will have its first church service this Sunday at the Old Majestic Theater.

As part of the transfer deal, the bank has forgiven the church for any debt still owed on its former building.

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