Local church claims insurer is acting 'like a bad neighbor' - WNEM TV 5

Local church claims insurer is acting 'like a bad neighbor'

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Joy Tabernacle Church Joy Tabernacle Church

Joy Tabernacle Church has stood tall in the city of Flint for 86 years and she has heard more than her share of confessions and witnessed countless redemptions.

"This is my heart, this is my soul, this church saved my life," said Aaron Dunigan, who attends Sunday services at the church.

Dunigan tells one of those stories. He said Joy Tabernacle has been his saving grace ever since he got out of prison five years ago. He planned to be married in the church's sanctuary this past summer.

"And then, the collapse of the ceiling," Dunigan explained.

It was one year ago Thursday night that the weight of ice and snow caused a truss to collapse. Dunigan joined other church members as they took their frustrations out to the streets Thursday night. Their frustrations are fueled with the insurance company they say has failed to come through.

"This is why we are out here freezing tonight, because we want to get back to our sanctuary," said Doris Williams.

Pastor R. Sherman McCathern said the sanctuary is in complete disrepair forcing church services to be held in the dining room of the church.

"We can't afford to fix a church, so we made sure we had good insurance, we thought we had a reliable insurance company, because they told us like a good neighbor, they would be there," McCathern said.

He said the church has a $1 million insurance policy through State Farm. The pastor claims the insurance company initially told him the damages would be covered and the church had nothing to worry about, but said when the $350,000 estimate came back, State Farm turned the other way.

"It's sacred to us, and for State Farm to discount it as though it's nothing and to, what we call, taunt us and play with us as though we're insignificant and we're in an area that doesn't matter, we're saying we're very significant and this area does matter," McCathern said.

Church members walked to shed light on the situation with hopes of some type of Christmas miracle, but while relying on prayers alone.

"We're going to take this fight to them at this point," said McCathern.

McCathern said a court date is set in May to try to get the damages paid for.  

He said the next step is to gather his church members and protest in front of the local State Farm building.

TV5 did recieve this statement from State Farm on Friday:

In keeping with our standard policy of protecting the privacy of our policyholders, State Farm does not typically discuss individual claims or issues on a case by case basis. We do have procedures in place for all customers that provide a fair and appropriate resource for addressing any issues or challenges that may arise during the handling of a claim. While I can't talk specifically about an individual case, I can tell you that State Farm feels strongly about our commitment to providing excellent customer service and a high level of satisfaction to our customers. 

-Angie Rinock, State Farm Spokesperson

Stay with WNEM.com and TV5 as we continue to investigate this story.

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