Just this spring, Wilsonville megachurch leader Mary Manin Morrissey was vowing to personally see that the parishioners who had loaned the Living Enrichment Center almost $8 million had their money--and their faith--restored.
Instead, court documents show, Morrissey is devoting her considerable energy to paying her own attorneys.
Since August, a for-profit entity, the Friends of Mary LLC, DBA Success NW, has been collecting the proceeds of Morrissey's public appearances. (Next up is the Miracle Mastery Conference, to be held at the Columbia DoubleTree Jan. 27-30.)
The money goes to a legal-defense fund. Since spring, the Oregon Division of Finance & Corporate Securities has been investigating the LEC's tangled finances. In addition, civil lawsuits have been filed against Morrissey personally, including one by "Jane Doe," the mentally disabled former member of Morrissey's "television congregation" whose story was highlighted by WW earlier this year ("The Prophet Margin," May 19, 2004).
Meanwhile, the LEC's creditors, which include parishioners, private vendors and various government entities (to which the LEC owed taxes), can't expect much relief. On Dec. 8, the church filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, meaning non-government creditors, at least, will be limited to whatever cash the bankruptcy trustee can scrounge up by selling church assets.
That won't be much: The church's only major asset--its building and 93-acre campus--was taken back by its mortgage holder earlier this year.
Although that property is still for sale, at $16.6 million, the listing agent is no longer Lake Oswego real-estate agent Howard Busse. That may be because Busse, a former member of the LEC's board, has been named as a co-defendant in "Jane Doe" lawsuit.