Pastor Mark and Rev. Hermia Whitlock
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Armed with unwavering faith in God, Pastor Mark Whitlock and the Christ Our Redeemer (COR) congregation achieved a rare feat in today's economy. They paid off the $3 million church mortgage in five years.
Such an accomplishment calls for rejoicing and COR plans to do just that with a Mortgage Burning Celebration on Sunday, October 23, at 10:30 a.m., in its totally owned edifice located at 46 Maxwell Street in Irvine.
Among the dignitaries participating in the service are Bishop T. Larry Kirkland Sr., presiding prelate of the 5th Episcopal District of the A.M.E. Church; Presiding Elder LaGrant Moore of the Los Angeles-Pasadena District, California State Assemblyman Dan Wagner, and Irvine Mayor Suki Kang.
"This is an exciting time in the life of Christ Our Redeemer and demonstrates that even in a bad economy, God will bring forth a good blessing," said Pastor Whitlock.
"The Lord has blessed us over five years to not only double the congregation, but completely pay off the mortgage. That is nothing but God and godly people with their minds on Jesus. We thank everybody, especially all of the A.M.E. churches, who helped us get into this place."
When COR secured the loan in 2006, Rev. Whitlock recalled, "We stood on faith because we did not honestly have enough money to even fix the place up. We didn't have carpet, solid walls, no stage, and no chairs. We worshipped in this environment, but the congregation was committed and God gave us a great material blessing in the end."
Gradually, COR improved the inside of the church with chairs and stage. By the third year, carpet was laid and interior walls were built and in the fourth year, a ceiling was added covering the exposed air conditioning ducts and warehouse lights.
"Throughout this journey, God was with us because the congregation grew despite the physical environment. We walked in here with less than 500 and now we have 2600 members," Pastor Whitlock said.
Reaching this milestone has increased the faith of the members as well as energized them to achieve greater heights in kingdom building. In the next five years, their goal is to obtain a larger building.
"We are no-ways tired. We are pushing forward to do God's will and God's way. It's really about keeping your hands on the plow and we're excited because now we are planning a new building," said the pastor.
"However, we are being fiscally conservative in view of the current economy. But, in the next five years, we hope to move to a bigger place, with bigger joy and we believe we can do it."