The looming threat of eviction is not stopping a metro Atlanta church that provides multiple programs for at-risk youth from feeding the hungry for Thanksgiving.
The Atlanta Urban Foursquare Church (AUC) is facing eviction from its building owned by the United Methodist Church, but church leaders say they still plan to move forward with its annual Thanksgiving meal for the poor next week.
“We want to invest in souls; that’s the purpose of this church, to invest in souls,” says Pastor Mark Anthony Mitchell, a former drug dealer who turned his life around and earned a masters degree from Harvard Divinity SchoolSchool. Watch CNN's interview with Mitchell:
Under Mitchell’s leadership, the church has earned a reputation as a “beacon of hope” in the economically challenged Lakewood community and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s been particularly welcoming to area residents who have served time in prison and need help re-entering society. AUC also houses a free pre-school and after school program along with hosting a mentoring and sponsorship program for ex-offenders.
The church also serves a weekly free breakfast to the needy on Wednesdays and Saturdays. All of these services could potentially come to an abrupt end due to an ongoing fight with the United Methodist Church.
AUC’s lease ran out last summer and they have been trying unsuccessfully for 10 months to persuade the United Methodists to donate the building to them. Anthony says the church’s financial resources have dwindled steadily, due to its efforts serving an indigent population in these tough economic times.
“We’re’ just asking the United Methodist Church to work with us to do the work of Jesus Christ,” he says.
The United Methodist Church has taken the church to court to get them evicted, but Anthony says he is still hopeful that the church will not have to close its doors.
“We’re still fasting and praying and believing that in this 11th hour something will happen to help us continually be able to serve the community there.”
For more information about the fight to save the church visit www.saveurbanchurch.com.