Church says banquet hall closed before event without notice

December 18, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The Harambee Banquet Hall was supposed to be the scene of a dinner for 130 members of the Travelers Rest Baptist Church.

When the parishioners arrived Sunday, they say the place was locked up tight. The phone number left on a sign was disconnected.

Pastor Mavis Seals says the church had paid the full cost in advance: about $3,000.

"We had people that came from out of town to come for the celebration and they wasted their money," said Seals. "This is a special occasion for the church, so everybody buys new clothes, and we come and give gifts to each other; this is our time of year to do that, so it's a whole lot of wasted money."

The pastor says he's been told by the Chicago Police that the banquet hall has been shut down before due to gang activity.

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