A historic black church in northwest Atlanta was saved by the help of the Occupy Atlanta movement. Higher Ground Empowerment Center, a church opened in 1903, is part of Atlanta's Vine City, which has been economically battered over the last few years.
The church, which not only gives out food and clothing to those in need but also runs tutoring programs, took out a substantial loan in 2008 to cover damage from a tornado that struck the area. HGEC struggled so much in the last few years, with dwindling membership the main culprit, that it was unable to make the payments. It attempted to refinance with BB&T, but the bank refused and threatened to evict the church in less than seven days last week if it didn't come up with the money.
When the bank threatened the church, HGEC's Pastor Dexter Johnson called up Occupy Atlanta for help. Activists then set up camp outside the site, and a day later, BB&T went back on its scheduled eviction and agreed to negotiate with the bank. Protesters said that they will not leave the site until a deal is reached.
Despite HGEC's claim that the bank was ready to foreclose on it, BB&T said that it wasn't because the church is leasing and doesn't have a mortgage. "We are working with the church on a resolution that will allow them to remain in the building," a spokesman for BB&T told CBS Atlanta. "They're going to work with us to come up with a new payment plan," Johnson said.
This is another example of how much good these Occupy movements have done across the country. If what Pastor Johnson is saying is true and the bank was ready to foreclose on the church, then this bank immediately balked at that idea once the Occupy movement came along. The PR nightmare for BB&T wouldn't have been worth it. Let's hope these two parties can strike a deal.
Read more at CBS Atlanta.