47 ABC Investigates: Church’s Nightmare Project
BERLIN, Md. – On Thursday night, 47 ABC aired an exclusive investigative report concerning the Lighthouse Church of God. Over the course of four days between June 10th – 13th 47 ABC’s Ryan Eldredge looked into a project that was never finished.
According to church leaders they laid out a plan and got permits to move forward with work between 2014 and 2015. In that time they also hired Unique Styles Custom Home Builders.
“Everyone was excited, this was a great opportunity and it looked like it was gonna work out,” said Theo Hobbs IV, a church councilman.
The ‘restoration station’ behind their main church facility cost $390,000 to construct and was supposed to have a completed gym, kitchen, classrooms and bathrooms; but it was never finished.
“This is like the worst thing I could possibly believe,” said Hobbs IV.
Right now, the church is paying the mortgage on a building they can’t use and they say it not only hurts their finances, it hurts their congregation.
Pastor Theophilus Hobbs III says that they’ve lost 80 percent of their congregation and the ‘restoration station’ is a big reason why.
“How do you answer why… I mean five years on a 4 month project….,” said Hobbs III.
The church says it took four years for Unique Styles Custom Home Builders to finish the flooring and the walls before all work stopped in April of 2018.
“It would’ve been best to come to us and say we need more funds because there were unforeseen issues that I couldn’t have anticipated,” said Hobbs III.
The pastor and other church leaders say that Kenneth Shockley was the man in charge and during a conversation he acknowledged that he made some mistakes.
“Again that was my fault I got into a job and I didn’t bid it… I got a little in over my head and some things happened and transpired,” said Shockley. “Different than what I thought would happen but I’m committed to correct this and make this right.”
47 ABC would later try to meet up with Shockley at the church.
“I can meet you at the facility if you want,” said Ryan Eldredge. “It might give you a better chance to explain what’s going on.”
“That’s fine. I can do that,” said Shockley.
That interview never happened after Shockley changed the venue. So 47 ABC called someone else who we felt could help, someone who could explain why a number of state agencies failed to look into the situation despite repeated calls from the church.
“What we need to do is reach out to the office of the attorney general have them look into the builder and see what kind of history they have,” said Delegate Wayne Hartman (R). “We need to see if we can encourage them to come back and sit down with the powers that be at the church. See where things separated and see if we can make amends and move forward on getting this back together.”
Delegate Hartman says it’s unlikely the church will recover their losses and so aside from holding the contractor responsible he believes the only move from here is to get the community involved.
“At this point if we could reach out to the community and get volunteers, anyone willing to help out… see if we can get back on the path forward I think that’s the best thing,” said Hartman.
Church leaders say they’ve had another contractor come in to look at the building and 47 ABC was told that it would take around $200,000 to get it up and running, that includes electric and HVAC work. The church says the walls, also now covered in mold, would also need to come out.
The church also says that they attempted to hire an attorney but were told it would costs tens of thousands with minimal results.
Delegate Wayne Hartman, Senator Mary Beth Carozza and Ryan Eldredge have organized a meeting for next week, Thursday, June 20th at 4 p.m. at the church. For that meeting they’re looking to speak with and find contractors or volunteers willing to do some work and help the church.