My name is Rev. Brian Merritt. I am the organizing pastor and evangelist for Mercy Junction. I am also proud to be a part of Occupy Chattanooga and their foreclosure defense efforts. As a follower of Jesus Christ I stand in solidarity with Bob Smith and his efforts to gain justice from First Security Group bank.
We stand in witness to Bob Smith’s worth as a neighbor. Bob is not what FSG would want us to believe. Their narrative is one of cold and calculated investments and returns. They see Bob and his house as just one of many cogs in their effort to extract profits from our communities. To them Bob and his home are part of an investment portfolio. The bank’s handling of Bob has shown that they believe that Bob is not a living and breathing human, but merely a means to an end. They have not kept their promises to Bob, but expect others to keep strictly to their mortgages. One more acceptable loss in their balance sheet. The bank is a powerful institution with a billion dollars in assets. We are here to bear witness to the fact that Bob and his habitation are much more essential to our community than FSG’s losses over the last quarter.
Bob is not a notation on a spreadsheet, his value is not associated with his net worth or the ability to pay on property with shifting values, nor is this bank’s position of unchallenged power in this community over an individual like Bob moral or sustainable for the residents of Chattanooga.
Not one more foreclosure, under water value of a house or homelessness of our neighbors is acceptable from people with the power to change this moral landscape easily. Chattanooga, Bob and all of us deserve better.
So, we demand that First Security Group halt their effort to throw Bob out two days before Thanksgiving, renegotiate according to the terms of Bob’s reality, and that Bob be given a clear process for maintaining the house that he has loved for so many years.
These are simple and easily obtainable demands. We expect no less from a bank that wants to be a moral business in our community. It is imperative for Bob, St. Elmo and for all of Chattanooga that First Security Group lead the way in a new movement toward equitable housing policy and just treatment of lending in this economy.
Mercy Junction is a community of faith rooted in social justice, devoted to alleviating systemic food and housing inequality. We are guided by the Holy Spirit to express God’s unbiased love to all people through action in our community.