Updated Saturday, 4:45 p.m. PST
Grace Community United Church of Christ, the church that saw its membership decline and its financial prospects suffer following the church's official support of marriage equality, is closing its doors after a failed fundraising effort.
More after the jump.
According to The Star Tribune, Grace Community Church "declined to extend its Saturday deadline to raise about $200,000 to pay off a high-interest loan and legal fees."
The decision followed days of tense negotiating this week between the church and the investor holding the loan, with the church's leadership ultimately deciding they did not want to keep paying to stay in the building.
The church's pastor, Rev. Oliver White acknowledges that it will be sad to say goodbye to the building that has been home to the church for 12 years, but he "hopes to buy a new church using the nearly $55,000 he's received from dozens of churches, groups and individuals nationwide."
White says, "I'm overwhelmed with a lot of belief in the power of humankind. It's been an amazing display of human kindness. There will be sadness [when the congregation leaves]. But it's still a building. We are the church. We don't have to be in that building to be Grace Community Church."
We previously reported on Grace Community United Church, the church that saw its membership dwindle and its finances suffer in the wake of its pastor, Rev. Oliver White's vote in support of United Church of Christ’s endorsement of marriage equality in 2005.
The church is still in financial trouble and has taken to the interwebs to keep its doors open.
More after the jump!
According to Pioneer Press, the 69-year-old Pastor White "needs to raise $200,000 by June 30 to pay off a high-interest collateral loan that the church took out in April 2007 in order to stay afloat."
As of May 23, White said, "We have $13,000 that we are ready to deposit that came in by way of mail so far. So we're at about 20 percent."
Though White is admittedly not internet savvy, supporters have helped him set up a donation site. Fundraising sites for the church can be found here and here.
White says, "I haven't allowed any of this to make me stop, because I feel that I have to continue in this journey. But it's also a monumental task."
White spoke with web-host, John Ong, stating, "If we are not successful, I am not going to feel that we are defeated. I've often said if one person has been turned around, if their thinking has been turned around, and they are no longer homophobic, and they can reach out and love their brothers and their sisters as they love themselves, unconditionally, without labeling them in any way, then losing the church will not be in vain."
We hope that the Grace Community United Church doors can remain open, especially with a voice like White's at the pulpit.
In the event that they don't, we know that his efforts (and GRACE) in support of the LGBT community won't be forgotten by us.