Faith Meets Finance in Parking

A Houston area church is in a bind because it’s been asked to pay for the parking it’s been getting free for 60 years. St. Thomas Episcopal Church and School are situated between a mall and a residential area. The mall’s owners allowed church members and students to park in its lot, but the mall was recently sold to Fidelis Realty Partners, which wants the church to pay $380,000 a year for parking privileges.

While Fidelis declined to comment for the article, which ran on click2houston.com, the Rev. David Browder spoke openly about what this means for the church.

“For the entire history of our church and school we’ve had access to this parking lot,” said Browder.

Browder said he’s trying to negotiate with Fidelis. But he is also searching for other options and leaning on his faith.

“It might not be exactly what we want to do right now, but it may be where God is leading us, to say, ‘Hey look, you all better start thinking about this, thinking about the future for St. Thomas,’” said Rev. Browder.

In a place where faith and finance collide, the faithful are apt to sound extraordinarily naive. In turn, the money-minded appear to be greedy and cruel. It’s hard to believe a church could operate without parking of its own and do so with the belief that its free parking scenario was a perpetual promise. And it’s hard to believe an investment company would make a public relations mistake as serious as keeping God-fearing Texans from their place of worship and and grade-school children from their place of education.

I can’t say if there is a middle ground or where that middle ground might be, but I have faith in people, and I think somehow they’ll come up with a compromise.

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One Response to Faith Meets Finance in Parking

  1. Rufus says:

    Gosh, sounds like adverse possession to me. The church might have a case!

    When a landowner grants free use of their parking lot to a church or non-profit on a regular or continuing basis, there should be a written use agreement between parties that avoids the possibility of adverse possession.

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