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Last minute donation saves Chicago church from auction

December 14, 2018
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Rev. Nicholas Jonas hugs a longtime parishioner of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, which avoided being sold at auction, Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, in Chicago. The 120-year-old Chicago church was saved from auction after a midnight call from a group of donors, which one church official said was "a Christmas miracle." (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) — A 120-year-old Chicago church was saved from auction after a midnight call from a group of donors, which one church official said was “a Christmas miracle.”

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church held what parishioners believed would be its final service on Thursday. The church was slated to go to auction Friday after facing legal issues and about $8 million in debt when a bank foreclosed on the property.

“A lot of people thought that this was it and it was hard to see,” said the Rev. Nicholas Jonas.

But church leaders said they received a phone call around midnight from a group offering a nearly $2 million donation to help the church purchase the property from the bank.

“We prayed for a miracle to happen, and we didn’t give up,” Jonas said. “A group of guardian angels came forward.”

The nonprofit behind the donation hasn’t been identified, but church leaders said at least one member of the congregation belongs to the group.

The move will allow the church to file for bankruptcy, which is enough to halt the auction and prevent the building from being demolished by an investment bank firm, according to Parish Council President Stanley Andreakis.

“We feel like kids. You wake up at Christmas and you have a present,” he said. “You are like, ‘I get to keep my church.’”

Andreakis said services will continue this weekend. He calls it their “Christmas miracle.”

“We want to keep the church going for more generations to come,” Andreakis said.

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