A man was forcibly removed during an Edmonton church service after yelling at the pastor to "tell the truth" about how it came to be in such dire financial straits — an outburst related to a controversial land deal that could result in the closure of the 30-year-old Victory Christian Center.
Pastor Cal Switzer was telling his congregation Sunday how it was dealing with its financial troubles when a middle-aged man leapt to his feet and began yelling.
"Tell them the truth," Wally Glimm yelled during the service.
Switzer immediately called for security and several men rushed across the cavernous church to grab Glimm by both arms and remove him as he continued to yell.
The Victory Christian Center at 11520 Ellerslie Rd. is now listed for $14 million under a forced judicial sale, and could be sold any day. The church has no tenant rights and would be forced to close, also shutting the school and daycare.
Switzer, who owns 98 per cent of the incorporated company that operates the centre, signed a real-estate deal in 2008 with Kevyn Frederick, a controversial developer and condo flipper with a lengthy history of failed real-estate dealings.
Pastor says Satan behind attack on church
During Sunday’s sermon, Switzer told about 250 members of his congregation that, just as Jesus faced enemies sent by Satan, so too did the church as it tried to spread the word of God.
Switzer said it was only discovered last week that there had been "some wrongdoing related to the acquisition of lands." He said an enemy "has tried to make a victim out of us and victimize us."
But Switzer said the church was standing up to the enemy.
"The church has said, ‘Hold it. You have not done right,’ and as a church we should go after what is ours."
To that end, Switzer said the best lawyers in the city from one of the best law firms in the country have been hired. The lawyers, he said, "are making supernatural progress."
Switzer then read directly from a letter he said he received from their lawyer, Lyle Brookes.
In the letter, Brookes said Kevyn Frederick had acted "wrongfully, unconscionably and completely without regard for the law." The letter also said, "we have done nothing wrong legally or ethically."
As the congregants cheered and clapped, Glimm leapt to his feet and began yelling.
Outside church, a still-agitated Glimm told CBC he interrupted the service because he couldn’t stand to listen to Switzer any longer.
"He is blaming everything on Mr. Frederick. [Switzer] was the one who made the deal without anyone else’s knowledge. He has to take 110 per cent of the blame for what he did. Not pass it on."
Glimm said he had been a member of the Victory Church congregation for four or five years, and gave it hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"When I was down and needed a little help, they said, ‘We don’t do that,’" Glimm said. "Then I started figuring out that, 'Hey, this isn’t right.'"
Glimm said he consulted a lawyer who told him there was nothing he could do to get his money back.
"But [the lawyer] said, ‘Give him enough rope and soon he will hang himself,’ and you know what, there is a God, a God who can use evil to bring about good."
After the service, several congregants voiced support for Switzer, and said they believed his claim that God will save their church.
"God will make do for us," one elderly woman said. As for Switzer, she added, "Everybody makes mistakes."
Another congregant said she supports Switzer because he and his wife, Jan, were there for her during some difficult times.
"I stand behind my pastor because this man has helped me a lot with my prayers," she said. "I believe in the strength of the compassion and the ministry that has helped me. It has made me strong. It has made me who I am. And I support them."
Church faces foreclosure after sale
As CBC first reported, court documents show Switzer sold the Victory property to Frederick in August 2008 for $18 million.
Frederick transferred the land to a numbered company he controlled, but didn’t register the mortgage, which would have guaranteed the property reverted back to the church if he didn’t make his payments.
The documents show Frederick made a down payment of $2.8 million but paid nothing more. The property fell into foreclosure and earlier this month, at the behest of Frederick’s other creditors, a court ordered a judicial sale of the Ellerslie Road property.
As part of the deal, Frederick was supposed to provide the church with land in Leduc for a new church. But documents show he also reneged on that deal.
Court documents show Switzer cut the deal with Frederick without any independent legal advice.
An affidavit sworn by church adviser Clayton Rayner states that, "The Ellerslie Road Lands are in foreclosure proceedings and it appears likely that Victory's operations will come to an end if the lands are sold in the foreclosure proceedings. Victory owns no other buildings from which it can conduct its operations for the church, children’s daycare and school."
History of failed real estate deals
It’s not known how Switzer came to be involved with Frederick.
Sources say the 41-year-old Frederick, also known as Kevin Frederick, Kevin Sheldon Frederick, Kevin Ronald Frederick and Portia Frederick, got his start in Edmonton’s hot real estate market as a condo flipper, buying apartment buildings and turning them into condos for a profit.
Frederick is the subject of numerous legal proceedings related to real-estate deals in which he borrowed huge sums to finance purchases, only to have the deals collapse when he defaulted on mortgage payments.
Frederick is scheduled to appear in court in Edmonton in November to face two counts of uttering forged documents.
It’s alleged he used those documents in 1997 to obtain aliases from Alberta’s registry system. In January, he is expected to appear in court in Leduc for a trial on an assault charge.