- Associated Press - Sunday, February 15, 2015

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - The congregation of the Beacon Church received a special gift in early January: It got the deed to its property.

The owner of the church’s mortgage, Origen Ventures, a real estate investment and development company in Boston, gave Beacon the church’s building and land, valued at $298,500, according to Lucas County records, at no cost, with no more mortgage.

“That was a miracle,” said Pastor Belinda Akpassa.

Bethel Apostolic Temple, which the church was known as until recently, had large debt, and Origen acquired the mortgage when the church changed its name to Beacon. The church learned that it had to refinance because of the name change, and Origen was patient while Beacon unsuccessfully searched for a lender, Akpassa said.

In September, 2014, “we came to a decision that we couldn’t keep it, and then we were OK with that,” said the pastor. “If it wasn’t God’s will . we’d move somewhere else with less responsibility.” Soon they were offered a meeting place rent-free.



“Well, Sept. 19 was our final answer, and we told them we just can’t do it and we’re going to let it go,” the pastor said. “It was already on the market to be auctioned off in November.”

The congregation decided its last there Sunday would be Oct. 26. Two weeks before, they would celebrate Akpassa’s second anniversary as pastor and her birthday.

Then the pastor’s nephew who serves on the church board received an email from Origen with an offer to give Beacon the church. Origen officials planned to fly in the next day for a meeting, which was so brief that Pastor Akpassa missed it when she drove her daughter to school.

But the news was good. On the anniversary Sunday, she told the congregation that Origen gave them the church.

“We figured the asset was better off in their hands,” said Jordan Fallman of Origen. “I had a chance personally to go and meet the congregation and the heads of the church out there, and it seemed to me that they have a positive effect on their community and they’re a warm, growing congregation.”

“Oh, you talk about rejoicing,” Akpassa said. The congregation “ran around the church in tears. My mother, who was our former first lady, I had to hold her up because I knew she was really hurting to leave the church. . Our heart is this community; it really is. We all pretty much come from this community, born and raised somewhere near here.”

The pastor said that “We did a lot of thanking them, a lot of thank yous. It took a load off. Of course, the building needed some work, it’s an old building, but with the release of that amount of money a month for a mortgage, it helps us to do the things we need to do for it.”

The ownership shift, according to real estate records, has Bethel Apostolic Temple selling the property on Dec. 29 to Origen Bancroft LLC, part of Origen Ventures, for no cost other than a 50-cent transfer fee. On Dec. 30, Beacon Churches International bought it from Origen, again at no cost.

The building has undergone change before.

“I went here when I was young, really, really young. I’m talking, like, 3 and 4 years old. I remember it looked totally different back then,” said Monique TaChae of Beacon’s administrative team, who returned to the church two years ago, after college. “I love the change and everything that’s going on with the church. I’m just excited to be a part of the movement.”

Bethel formally bought the former Bancroft United Methodist Church in 1989, according to Lucas County records, with the selling price $155,000, but The Blade reported that the United Methodists agreed to the sale in 1979. Akpassa said that Bethel rented before making the 1989 purchase. Built in 1930, the church had also been home to United Brethren and Evangelical United Brethren congregations.

Akpassa became the pastor after her father retired as the church’s leader.

“I never had an ambition to be a pastor or was looking for it,” she said.

She said that Beacon now would like to have a weekend flea market along with vendors selling fresh fruit and vegetables in the summer.

“We’ve got a big property out here; we want to use it,” Akpassa said.

“Look for us in a big way. We’re going to come out into our community. We’re going to be out of these four walls a lot, and be out serving our people and serving our community.”

___

Information from: The Blade, https://www.toledoblade.com/

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