CHATSWORTH (CBSLA.com) — A church in Chatsworth says the gas leak in Porter Ranch has hurt them in their efforts to help the needy.
The church -- Leaves of Healing Tabernacle --doubles as a community food bank.
Congregants told CBS2's Amy Johnson the gas leak has cut attendance by nearly half. The gas leak might also force the church to close.
The focus of the church has been to help its members grow spiritually. During the past nine and a half years the congregation has grown to about 200 but lately the non denominational church has seen some of its leaves fall.
"In the last few months, we've had an attrition," said Pastor Lorraine Coconato, "because of relocation from the gas leak here in Porter Ranch."
Coconato is the senior pastor at the church and says about half of the congregation has left -- those who left told Coconato they had to move away from the SoCal gas leak.
Numerous times she has heard, "Pastor we're too far right now. We'll come when we get re-established back in our home."
With their absence, their tithing has also gone away.
"Because of these incredible people that have been attending here," Coconato said, "Our finances here gone way down, they've declined. Greatly. And it's made it hard to literally pay the bills in this beautiful place."
Their house of worship also houses a food bank.
"We have 60-70 families with children and grandchildren to receive free groceries," Coconato said.
She says if the church closes, so does the food bank. She's worried about the families that depend on the food.
"It's very, very concerning in the last two months we were short on the rent and had to borrow the money both months to pay the rent," the pastor acknowledged.
She hopes the gas leak will be fixed soon and families will return home and back to church where their financial gifts help so many others.
The pastor says if things don't change soon, they'll be forced to close their doors permanently in the next couple of months.
For more about the church, click here.
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