Ministry with Ties to L.A. Pastor Buys Topeka's Sumner School

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A ministry with ties to a Los Angeles-based bishop now owns Topeka's historic Sumner School.

True Foundation World Outreach Ministries made the winning $89,000 bid in an auction at the city's Holliday Building Thursday night.

The minitry's pastor, Zaire Thomas, and the group Community First were the only two approved bidders for the auction.

Thomas says he plans to create a multi-purpose resource center with programs ranging from job training to etiquette classes to daycare. He says he hopes to create an atmosphere that will bring people in to Topeka. His wife, Mary Beth, says they will honor the building's history and bring excitement around the project.

Sandra Lassiter of Community First, which had been working to purchase the building from the city for more than a year, said if Thomas has the funding to purchase and rehabilitate the building, she is all for it. She says her primary concern has been preserving the building and adding to the community.

Thomas is backed by Bishop W.R. Portee who runs a ministry out of Los Angeles called the Southside Christian Palace Miracle Center.

Sumner School is historic for its role as one of the all-white schools at the center of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case.