published Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Letter evicts Mosaic church from downtown Chattanooga building

Mosaic Church which doubles as Club Fathom in Chattanooga.
Mosaic Church which doubles as Club Fathom in Chattanooga.
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A Dec. 31, 2011, letter terminating the lease for Mosaic church asks that all tenants be out of the building by Jan. 31.

The letter from James Henry, the Chattanooga attorney whose wife is listed as a trustee for the property, was drafted nearly a week after nine people were shot outside the church location at 412 Market St. after a Christmas Eve party wrapped up.

The letter states that Fathom Inc., a nonprofit group started by the church's pastor, Tim Reid, is responsible for rent through the end of the month.

Reid could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

In a previous interview, he said the church would leave the building and would consider other locations. It's possible the church's youth outreach program, Club Fathom, whose goal is ministering to inner-city youth, would discontinue, he said.

City officials declared Mosaic a nuisance, citing numerous fights and shootings over the years.

"Regardless where Fathom ends up, regardless of the type of business they plan to operate, I hope they will provide a more focused, law-abiding and safer environment for their patrons as well as the public," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Chattanooga City Council Chairwoman Pam Ladd said she is happy that the Mosaic church seems to be reviewing its outreach ministry. But she said she hopes the church was not just relocating to "continue their activities."

"I hope they are using this time to evaluate," she said.

Councilman Peter Murphy, chairman of the council's Legal, Legislative and Public Safety Committee, said he is leery of the church moving out of the building.

"I'm going to reserve judgment until I see where they are going," he said. "They don't do me any favors if they end up somewhere else in a commercial area and do the same thing again."

As part of the rental agreement, Fathom paid the property taxes, Reid said in a previous interview. Local tax records from 2010 show the organization owes $4,251.10, which was due March 1, 2011. Interest accrues monthly until the debt is paid, so under the agreement, Fathom will owe an additional $3,656.28 on March 1, 2012, for this year's taxes, which are not yet delinquent.

Hamilton County records show delinquent property taxes and penalties for 2010 on the Market Street property now total $12,561.10. The 2011 tax bill, which will not be delinquent until March 1, totals $10,782.07, records show.

At a service Wednesday night in the Market Street location, Mosaic Leadership Pastor Chris Edwards said the past few weeks have been a troubling time for the church community.

"We're in the midst of persecution," Edwards said, adding that he feels like he has gotten a "little small taste" of the persecution Jesus experienced.

Despite the increased scrutiny, Edwards said he has never seen the church's community so strong. If the churchgoers come together, they will be unstoppable, he said.

Staff writers Beth Burger, Cliff Hightower, Naomi Jagoda, Ansley Haman and Kevin Hardy contributed to this story.

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