UCG seems to have big issues with congregations that build their own buildings. After decades of meeting in school gyms, Masonic and Elk's Lodges, many COG groups decided to build their own permanent buildings. Some in WCG started this and it carried over into UCG.
An earlier UCG Church hall controversy happen in West Virginia around 2002-2004. A UCG Church member in Bluefiield was a branch bank manger for a local West Virginia bank. During her tenure there she embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars. She was generous with that stolen money and helped UCG build their own church building in the area. Later when the US government found out she had been stealing money they repossessed the building from UCG and prohibited further meetings there.
Now switch to Houston Texas. After meeting in eleven different locations from May of 1995 to December 1996 a wealthy group of UCG members in Houston Texas decided they wanted to build their own building.
From The Journal:
On that day UCG-AIA president Les McCullough and treasurer Tom Kirkpatrick, both of the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, addressed a combined meeting of Houston North and South. Mr. Kirkpatrick had served as associate pastor of Houston North during the initial planning for the building.
The purchase of the property and construction of the building at 20737 Broze Rd., in the Houston suburb of Humble, were made possible by a large donation from a Houston couple, along with other special offerings, fruit sales and other fund-raisers, and other donations from the Houston North brethren.
The Journal spoke with Houston North pastor Jim Franks, who described the building as a "great blessing to be used primarily for Sabbath services and other church-related activities."
No plans for its use as a Feast site are foreseen, Mr. Franks said. The 10,000-square-foot metal structure is comprised of an auditorium that can seat 600 people, four classrooms, a room for parents to care for small children, an office, a kitchen and a large foyer suitable for weddings and other events.
"If you can remember what the Feast-ad building on campus was like, our building is similar to that," he said.
He was referring to what used to be called the Festival Administration Building on the former Ambassador College campus in Big Sandy.
With the Houston North church the largest United congregation (about 300 in regular attendance), the brethren there have faced a struggle to find a suitable location to conduct services.
During the first 18 months of United's existence (May 1995 to December 1996), Houston North met in 11 locations. The last meeting hall (Magrill Elementary School) informed the church in 1997 it must find another location for services.
The school granted the congregation an extension on its lease while the brethren explored other possibilities. At that point the process began of obtaining permission from United's home office in Milford, Ohio, to purchase property and construct a building for the congregation.
Church officials are quick to point out that Houston North's situation is an unusual one and that the construction of the building was made possible by generous private donations and by the more than 100 members who labored for countless hours to obtain such a facility.
Now jump to 2011. No one from UCG had any idea that there would be a huge split in the Church and a new group forming. The problem with United was that the people who paid for the building are now part of COGWA. COGWA is demanding the building stay with them, and UCG is being a hardass and saying the building belongs to them.
Apostle Malm has this little blurb today:
On Jan. 30, 1999, the members of the Houston North congregation overwhelmingly elected to grant UCG a special warranty deed. The brethren were confident this document was written in such a way that the building would be held in trust for sole use by the local group. This action was taken in a spirit of trust. Thus, a deed along with a “side agreement” was prepared. The wording of the 1999 Church survey makes the wishes of the brethren quite clear:
“We can deed the property in the name of UCGIA, which is a 501(c)3 corporation, to be held in trust for the local congregation. The property would be controlled by the local congregation and could not be sold without local approval. … If UCGIA were to dissolve or abandon our fundamental beliefs, then the local group would still maintain control. The property would not be lost. All of this would be written out as a part of the deed, similar to what is currently done with a restricted donation.”It was the expectation of the brethren that in the event of an irreconcilable dispute with UCG, the building would revert back to the local group. Contained in the original documents was language that attempted to address what would happen to the facility in case of dispute, but no one at that time could have foreseen what eventually transpired at the end of 2010. As a result of the unforeseen events of December 2010, the language of the documents proved problematic for purposes of protecting the rights of the local brethren to regain title to the building. Though the local congregation has expressed both a moral and lawful claim, after consulting with legal sources, it was unclear as to what the outcome of a legal challenge to retain control of the building would be. However, the local group in Houston has not waived any of its legal rights, and the situation remains under review.Over the past few months there has been dialogue with UCG concerning the possibility of leasing or purchasing the building, but the conditions for lease or sale imposed by UCG were not satisfactory to the Houston North membership. Based on demands from UCG to vacate by April 26, the only alternatives to the brethren were to leave or face a lawsuit. Thus, the Last Day of Unleavened Bread was the final time for the congregation to use Broze Hall.
These two UCG buildings are not an isolated case. There are other issues going on with other UCG buildings. COGWA is demanding use of the same buildings as UCG. Just more COG 'Christian ethics' on display.