After four years of uncertainty through bankruptcy and threats of foreclosure, a Southside congregation has relinquished its Manchester sanctuary.
Richmond Christian Center’s 44,000-square-foot building at 214 Cowardin Ave. was sold last week for $2.9 million. The buyer was United Nations Church International, another Southside house of worship that was the victor in a sale orchestrated through RCC’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, which began in 2013.
The sale closed Jan. 9, according to city property records.
Court records say UNCI will move its 700-member congregation to the Cowardin site, where it has held services since September. The two congregations have been in talks of a merger, according to court filings.
The Richmond Christian Center name has come down off the building, which was converted from a car dealership, and the UNCI name is now displayed prominently.
The court-approved deal was designed to end RCC’s years-long slog through bankruptcy and make its creditors whole. The Cowardin building served as collateral on a loan from Foundation Capital Resources, the lender and main creditor whose attempts to foreclose on the RCC holdings prompted the bankruptcy years ago.
UNCI’s acquisition also included 16 surrounding parcels owned by RCC, mostly empty lots and small commercial buildings totaling 5 acres with a combined assessed value of $4 million.
Chris Perkins, the LeClairRyan attorney representing RCC’s bankruptcy trustee, could not be reached for comment by press time. Messages left for UNCI and its attorney were not returned Thursday.
UNCI already had sold its previous home, the 18,000-square-foot building at 5200 Midlothian Turnpike, which was purchased by Liberation Church International, a local congregation that had been housed at a smaller building in the East End.
The sale closed despite assertions in court hearings and filings by RCC’s founding pastor Stephen Parson Sr. that the properties were rightfully his.
Parson, who was exiled from the church during the bankruptcy process, has continued to make filings in court in attempt to appeal the judge’s order that allowed the real estate sale.