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Venue Church Pastor Confirms that Megachurch Is in Foreclosure

Amanda Casanova | Contributor | Updated: Aug 18, 2022
Venue Church Pastor Confirms that Megachurch Is in Foreclosure

Venue Church Pastor Confirms that Megachurch Is in Foreclosure

Venue Church pastor Tavner Smith says the megachurch is in foreclosure, confirming reports that had circulated about the Chattanooga, Tennessee church.

"You probably read in the paper or saw in the paper that the bank put a notice of foreclosure on our building which is absolutely true," Smith explained in a message to his church just over a week ago. "We've gone through a hard season. It's been no lie. We've not hidden that; it's pretty public the season that we have gone through as a church."

Smith was referring to last December when at least eight church employees quit after a video surfaced of Smith allegedly kissing a female church employee.

According to reports, Smith was intimately involved with the woman while he was in the process of divorcing his now ex-wife.

In November 2021, Smith was caught half-naked with the employee at his home when church volunteers surprised him at home.

Smith later stepped away from his pastoral role.

Earlier this month, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published a notice of foreclosure and sale, which said that the Venue Church is in default of its loan at the property at 6401 Lee Highway in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The sale of the property is set for August 24 at 2 p.m. at the Hamilton County courthouse.

According to the notice, the original loan amount on the property was $2.8 million. The church secured the loan in September 2019 from First Citizens National Bank. The property is now valued at $4.86 million.

Smith initially denied the claims that the church was in foreclosure. The church has not responded to requests for comment, but Smith said in his message that he was "scared" when he learned the news of the financial issue.

"I can stand up here and tell you that there are multiple options that they are providing for us to stay here and make it through," he said.

"It is a scary situation when you're navigating through things like this, and you know you're not just going through it alone, but you're going through it with a group of people that affects lots of people," he added. "And so when we found out and saw the notice, just like you, we were scared as well."

He added that the church will continue despite the foreclosure.

"Are you with me? If we walked in tomorrow and an earthquake happened, and this building was swallowed up and gone, we're still the church. The church is not a building, never was the building, never will be a building. … We are the church," he said. "If you ... all come to my house, we'll pile in there. In the cul-de-sac, down the street, wherever we got to [go]."


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Photo courtesy: Daniel Tseng/Unsplash

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.

Venue Church Pastor Confirms that Megachurch Is in Foreclosure