Center Congregational on the Brink
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
According to Center's pastor, Rev. J.R. McAliley III, Center has a $17,000 legal bill, but only $9,000 left in assets. This is after the church spent over $40,000 in legal fees preparing for its upcoming court hearing. "We knew this would be a costly process and it has been," said McAliley. "We truly believe our cause is just and that our case is sound, but we cannot proceed without the financial resources to maintain our legal effort. We need your assistance."
With Center drained of its resources, the Southeast Conference is in position to outlast and outspend its way to victory. But as the UCC is so fond of saying, God's justice belongs to the cause of the weak. Center Church, located in Atlanta, sits on land donated in trust by the Cox family. The trust stimulates that as long as the church remains congregational, the land and the building belong to the church. When the UCC came into existence in 1955, Center chose to remain independent. In 1994, the church joined the UCC, but disassociated in 2005, and in 2006 joined the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC). McAliley believes this lawsuit is not so much a UCC style King Ahab effort to steal away land (1 Kings 21), but an effort to seize legal control over the right to congregationalism:
The legal impact of our case – defining “the Congregational Denomination” – is one with implications for every Church and Organization historically associated with the Congregational Way. Center’s little ¼ acre of land in Buckhead, an upscale section of Atlanta, Ga, even at the current speculative market value of about $500,000.00 is not the goal of the UCC/SECUCC. Legal “ownership” of the designation as the true legal successor to “the Congregational Denomination” is and the implications will spread like a tsunami.
In order for Center to win this battle, your donations are needed and can be sent here:
Center Congregational Church
1055 Moores Mill Road NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30327-1627