These days I spend a lot of time volunteering as a gabbai at Kehilat Hadar, and among other things this means dealing with our budget concerns, i.e. making sure we have enough money to pay rent. So it was especially interesting to me to read this article in the Wall Street Journal about churches and other religious spaces that have had trouble paying rent, and have had to walk away from mortgages in the past couple of years. It’s a much bigger problem than I would have thought:
Just as homeowners borrowed too much or built too big during boom times, many churches did the same and now are struggling as their congregations shrink and collections fall owing to rising unemployment and a weak economy.
Since 2008, nearly 200 religious facilities have been foreclosed on by banks, up from eight during the previous two years and virtually none in the decade before that, according to real-estate services firm CoStar Group, Inc. Analysts and bankers say hundreds of additional churches face financial struggles so severe they could face foreclosure or bankruptcy in the near future.
People like to think that they’re doing God’s work and so they won’t have to worry too much about the finances. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Pronounced: GAH-bye, Origin: Aramaic, literally “tax collector,” but today means someone who assists with the Torah reading in synagogue.The gabbai usually determines who will be called up to the Torah for an aliyah and also assists with other aspects of coordinating worship.