One of the challenges that districts face is what to do with congregations that are slowly dying. In many cases, these congregations have little hope of returning to their original health without extreme intervention; however, they often have facilities that are very strategic.
Districts can often take advantage of the strategic facilities by closing the church and, after a time, reopening the church with revamped ministries and new personnel. To do so takes a very large financial commitment from the districts to cover staff salaries and operating expenses for a significant period of time. There is tremendous efficiency realized when the equity in the building can be used to cover the operating expenses of the replant. The Orchard Alliance board of directors (BOD) may approve loans to districts for church restarts that include the funding of operational expenses. Such loans are subject to the following criteria:
- All requests will be reviewed by Church Ministries of the C&MA before being presented to the BOD.
- Only the property of the church being revitalized may be used as collateral.
- Loan-to-value (LTV) should not exceed 50 percent.
- The property must be owned by the district and the loan must be made to the district, with all loan payments being pulled electronically from a district account.
- Underwriting should be similar to that for any other district loan.
- The loan may include funds to refinance debt that the former congregation owed.
- The operational expense portion of the loan may not exceed $400,000 or the total budgeted operating expenses of the revitalized church for three years, whichever amount is less.
- Loan funds will be distributed in one lump sum, and fully-amortized payments will begin immediately.
- A budget for the use of the loan funds must be presented with the loan request.
- The loan shall receive Orchard Alliance’s extension rate discount for the first five years.
- Capital expenses that are funded through the loan shall receive a 15-year term and amortization. Operational and FF&E expenses shall receive a six-year term and amortization. If a loan includes a combination of these types of expenses, the loan may have a blended payment stream that combines these separate amortization schedules or it may be handled as two separate loans.
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