Church Faces Financial Woes Similar to its Congregants

Gale Horton Gay | 6/27/2012, 3:41 p.m.

"When you look at the numbers and when you look at what the banks were attempting to do to us, which was to put us in an impossible situation ... it was clear it was not going to work," Chapman said.

Chapman, a resident of Waldorf who said he has been a member of the church for 15 years, said the banks caused the church "a lot of unnecessary drama" by agreeing to renegotiate their loans, then changing their minds.

"The banks have a history of decimating churches," said Chapman, adding that they've heard from many other churches in Prince George's County and throughout Maryland that are in similar financial predicaments.

Muse ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) for a state senate seat in April 2012.

Chapman describes Muse as a politician who "goes against the system," noting he voted against redistricting and a proposed tax hike on small businesses.

"We understand we have a pastor in politics," said Chapman.

Muse also wants to set the record straight. He said reports in other news media that he previously was involved in another church financial crisis are inaccurate.

He said he was an employee of the United Methodist Church while he was pastor at a church in Brandywine, Md., and had no authority over the church's financial affairs related to construction projects.

"I had no banking authority, no loan authority, no checking authority," said Muse of his 15 years at Gibbons United Methodist Church, which later became Resurrection Prayer Worship Center United Methodist Church. "They made those decisions. It was not my debt."

Muse left the church in 1999 and a large portion of the congregation followed him to his new church.

However, a report from the United Methodist News Service from June 2002 indicates that the Brandywine church building project which started in 1995, ended up costing double the building's appraised value and was never completed. It states that the church sued Muse "to get an accounting of its financial status and to ascertain if equipment had been taken by the departing pastor or members."

The United Methodist News Service states that Muse left behind a debt of nearly $6 million.