VAN NUYS (CBS) — Congregants at a church in Van Nuys showed up to worship Sunday — only to find out they’d been evicted.

Unbeknownst to them, they soon discovered their property manager wasn’t making payments to the property owner.

And if services are going to return to this church any time soon, the members might need some divine intervention or a miracle.

Edward Lawrence, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to the shocked flock.

They had no idea there was anything wrong. They certainly didn’t see an eviction notice coming.

But that’s what they found on the church door this morning at the Centro Internacional De Oracion San Fernando Valley Church (CIOSFV). They found an eviction notice and a padlock.

The shock and confusion of being evicted didn’t stop Sunday service … just forced it to move.

Pastor Ignacio Licona explained to the congregation that they will continue to worship right on schedule. They simply moved service outdoors — to the front lawn.

“It’s locked. All our instruments. Everything is inside,” he told the largely Hispanic congregation.

Angel Pena, a pastor, said, “It’s very unfair. You would not believe in a religious setting that this would happen, but it still does. We need to forgive that and pass that point and concentrate on tomorrow.”

Pena’s congregation only moved into this facility two months ago.

He says they paid rent to the Faith Compassion Ministries that ran the other church in the building.

Pena found out that the rent on the property was not making it to the true owner. He hadn’t reportedly been paid for five months. Thus, an eviction process was begun.

Neighbor Hazel Moran told Lawrence that she would hate to see the church have to close its doors. She believes they have done a lot of good in the short time they have been on the premises. “There would be drug addicts here before. They cleaned out this community.”

And she says the church cleaned up in more ways than one. All the tagging and graffiti has been removed.

Personally, she benefits from the church’s food donations program every Thursday and Saturday.

Pena and the church’s other pastors met the real property owner for the first time. “We are trying to stay. We’re trying to stay.”

The owner says he will allow the church to rent the property but that will cost them $15,000 a month — money they would love to raise.


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