JOLIET, Ill. — Leaders of Messiah Lutheran Church in Joliet are praying for a miracle to keep the doors open after learning they owe the federal government hundreds of thousands of dollars by November.

Messiah Lutheran Church has been around for more than 120 years and now are looking for help from the community to help raise $300,000 by Nov. 15. If they don’t the church will be forced to close its doors.

In 2019, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against a local business claiming the business defrauded numerous investors.

As part of that litigation, a receiver for the SEC was appointed to recoup money the business paid others, which included more than $780,000 in donations to Messiah Lutheran Church over ten years.

Messiah Lutheran Church’s senior pastor Kurt Hoover says the money was spent on salaries, ministry, and daily operations.

“As a church you don’t have much of a reserve fund,” Hoover said. “You’re really spending as much as you can every year on your ministry.”

Now, the SEC receiver is demanding the church pay $300,000 by Nov. 15. If Messiah cannot pay that amount, the federal government will raise the amount to $400,000, freeze the church’s assets, and ask them to sell the building.

Hoover says the church has been able to raise about $30,000 so far. Anyone interested in donating, click here.