Future uncertain for Joliet church caught up in fraud case

foundation block with name of church and date of 1981
A historical marker at Messiah Lutheran Church Photo credit Messiah Lutheran Church

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Joliet church congregation faces a deadline to raise some major dollars or risk losing their building and property.

It all stems from a Securities and Exchange Commission conviction of businessman Kenneth Courtright of Minooka.

Courtright was convicted of taking $75 million from investors and using some of that to pay other investors and his own personal expenses, including his children’s private school tuition.

Now, at least one of the charities to which Courtright donated -- Messiah Lutheran in Joliet -- has been ordered to pay back some of the money.

Brian Wielbik of the church’s planning council says the 600-member congregation is trying to raise money at savemessiah.org.

“Nov. 15 is the deadline for us to come up with $487,000,” he told WBBM Newsradio. “About $187,000 we have already paid, and we are asking for help from the community to raise the remaining $300,000.”

If the church does not come up with the money by the deadline, the SEC plans to tack on an additional $100,000 to the judgment and take the church and its property and sell it, he said.

The church is not accused of knowing about Courtright’s illegal actions when it accepted the donations.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Messiah Lutheran Church