WATCH: Iconic Bridgeport Church, Founded and Led By the Late Bishop Kenneth Moales, to Shut Down Due to Foreclosure; Church Officials Blame Bank’s Predatory Lending Practices and Targeting of Regional Minority Churches

Religious leaders in Bridgeport announced Saturday that one of the biggest churches in the city is shutting down next week.

Parish officials say the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit on Union Avenue is in foreclosure and the bank will take possession of the building. According to former Bishop Kenneth Moale’s wife, the church is in need of $150,000 by Monday to keep the bank from foreclosing on the church.

Officials say, as it stands now, the bank is scheduled to take possession of the parish and shut it down in a matter of days.

The shutdown means that not only will the church’s doors close for good, but so will its many programs that support the community.

Local leaders allege the bank involved has a well-established history of engaging in predatory lending practices and in foreclosing on a disproportionate number of minority churches across the region.

Officials say the church’s founder, Bishop Moales, had a reputation worldwide as an ecclesiastical visionary who worked for decades to build consensus and credibility in the African-American community. When he died in 2010, President Barack Obama even noted him for his spiritual leadership and deep commitment to serving people in need.

East End leader Ernie Newton, who now leads the parish, says the church is the victim of predatory lending practices by the bank.

“We’re going to ask our state reps and our senators to look into this institution,” Newton said. “From my understanding is in the process on closing on a black church in New Haven, they’ve done it in Houston, they’ve done it all around the country.”

Bishop Moales’ son, Pastor Kenneth Moales, held a special service at the church Monday at 6 p.m. to explain the situation to parishioners and any members of the public who chose to attend.

The bank did not respond to News 12’s request for comment.

SOURCE: News 12 New Jersey