CONCORD, N.C. - A congregation is spending the last few days of 2019 trying to save their Cabarrus County church from foreclosure.
For much of its nearly 140-year history, the Rock Hill AME Zion church has stood here on Rock Hill Church Road in Concord. Now, it's in the fight for its life.
There is a lot of history on the land that the church stands on. Families are buried here there was once a school for African-American children here during the Jim Crow era, but for a good portion of its history, it's been a place to worship.
“We are a family here. We're either related by blood or by love, we've gone to school together, we've been raised up generations together,” said church treasurer Lisa Grier Lea.
Lea is not only the church treasurer, but also a trustee a churchgoer.
“There's a part of me that just can't fathom riding along rock hill church road and Rock Hill AME Zion church not being here,” Lea said.
But that is a reality that is facing this church. Lea told us about the events that have led to this point, financial issues that started years ago, and with different leadership, have now caught up to the people there now.
The church filed for bankruptcy and Lea says they had been trying to work out a deal with an unwilling mortgage company. They’re now facing foreclosure with a bill that's simply too high.
“$1,465,000 and that includes a lot of interest,” Lea said.
The church needs help, that much they know, but they say they are bound by circumstances beyond their control.
“The mortgagee is not willing to work with us on separating the cemetery from this property, because they have our ancestors, people with my maiden name,” said Lea.
For Lea, this is personal. She’s spearheading an effort to save the church and she hopes it’s not too late.
“We think and we know that we are a church that's worth saving because we've done great things here for 139 years. We wouldn't have survive if we had not.”
The foreclosure hearing is set for just after the start of the new year. The congregation says they are praying for a miracle.