CLOQUET, Minn. (ABP) — A 55-year-old Minnesota man is suing a local church because it won't give back a $126,000 donation he made five years ago.
Marcel Mager of Cloquet, Minn., said he made the anonymous donation, nearly all his life savings, during a time of emotional distress. His wife reportedly had left him two weeks prior and he thought giving money to the church would help ease his pain.
But after five months of antidepressants and counseling, Mager said he asked for the money back and leaders at the Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle church said no. Apparently they already had used the money for new family ministry space.
Mager then quietly lobbied the church board and pastor Richard Doebler for the money to be returned. After years passed without a resolution, he filed a lawsuit against the church in 2002. The two sides have been exchanging paperwork ever since, with no immediate legal end in sight.
Richard Hammar, an expert in church law and tax code in Springfield, Mo., said Mager might have a difficult time getting his money back in court, contending his only hope is to prove he was not of sound mind when he made the donation. But that can be extremely difficult, Hammer said, because even families of people with more permanent mental ailments — such as Alzheimer's disease — have failed to get large donations returned.