Officials at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington are upset over a recent Reuter’s story that they say was a distortion of the church’s finances.
In the April 1 article “Holy Bubble: Churches Struck Down by Foreclosures,” the Rev. Grainger Browning, senior pastor at Ebenezer, made a general comment regarding the financial difficulties of the times.
“It’s happening to virtually every church," he said. "At a recent meeting with the 100 top pastors in the country, it was amazing how all of us were facing some sort of challenge with the banks."
The church says that statement was used to exaggerate the financial difficulties of Ebenezer. Church officials say the author used the church’s “position and profile as an example” for a story that it believes it shouldn’t have been a part of. Two days after the story was published, the church released a statement.
“A recent news report giving the impression that Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church of Fort Washington, Md., is facing potential foreclosure is unequivocally false,” the release said. “Ebenezer is not, nor has it ever been, in foreclosure. In fact, the church has never been late or missed a payment to its banking institution. Based on these facts, we are shocked and disappointed by the gross mischaracterization of Ebenezer in the media.”
However, Tom Hals, who is responsible for the story, stands by his reporting and refutes the claims that he misrepresented the church in any way. “The article doesn’t say they missed a payment or have been late on a payment,” said Hals in an e-mailed statement.
Church officials say that on the surface Hals is correct, but that the article implies much more than what was said to him. Ebenezer received many phone calls after the article’s publication from people asking about the church’s well-being, they said.
Though the church was not in financial danger, it has been weathering the same economic conditions as the rest of the country. But in addressing them head on, things really improved.
Part 2 of this story will be in the next Prince George's County Edition of the AFRO American Newspaper.