Temporary Permanence

This Sunday, following our 10:30 service, we’ll be having a church wide meeting to discuss and vote on the purchase of two of the buildings on our current church campus (buildings B & C). We are excited about this opportunity, though I can’t imagine when the church moved to this property in the fall of 2004 that anyone considered at that time that we would one day be purchasing it.

If you were around then–and truth be told, not a lot of families who were here then are still around now–you know that the move to this location was intended to be temporary, as property was being purchased just down George Roy Parkway with plans to build a large, beautiful church building there. But, that never materialized, the property was eventually sold, and we have continued to rent all these years, all the while looking for another “permanent” location.

Then last fall, things changed. The owner of these two buildings passed away, and the “sweetheart deal” we had in rent was no longer going to be an option. In fact, we were faced with some big decisions: we had to find another place to meet (whether we rented or bought an existing building, or tried to build something ourselves), or if we wanted to stay where we are, we would see our rent go up somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 to 50,000 a year—which would stretch our budget beyond what we could handle. The other option was the possibility of purchasing these buildings ourselves.

We began praying about where the Lord was leading, and felt then, even before we knew anything about a pandemic, that He was pushing us out of our comfort zone, and leading us to something exciting.

Over the last several months we have been exploring those options, even in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. We even considered the possible purchase of a couple of existing church buildings that are not too far from our current location. Finally, our elders prayerfully decided to pursue the purchase of our current buildings. After much conversation with our current landlord, we have finally come to a tentative agreement on an offer to purchase the buildings, pending approval of our church body.

Fortunately, we are blessed to have a combination of a Building Fund and reserves from years of God’s blessings and frugal stewardship, that have allowed us to prepare for such a time as this. We should be able to pay for the purchase using mostly cash on hand, and still maintain ample operating reserves to effectively minister, even in these uncertain financial times. We are also intentionally holding back an additional amount of monies to devote to making improvements on the buildings that we have not been able to do while we were renting.

If approved, we will be paying $720,000 for the buildings and property, well below the $840,000 appraised value. Our plans are to pay a little more than 90% of the purchase price up front–$650,000, from money in the bank–and the owner will hold an interest-free mortgage for the remaining $70,000 that we plan to pay off within the next couple of years. We will be able to do that by basically making the same payments we have been paying for rent, but would like to try to pay down the balance of the principal as much as possible as we go.

Also, for those who have asked, this does not involve Building A (our Kids Crossings building). That building belongs to another owner, and we are currently in a lease to continue to rent that building. But we do hope, once we get this purchase behind us, to begin discussions about possibility buying that property as well.

This is some of the information we will discuss in our meeting on Sunday, and our elders will be available to answer any questions you may have. We will also use this meeting to briefly discuss and approve our ministry budget for 2020-21.

We said several months ago that the only thing that was certain was that the “status quo” was not an option, that changes were inevitable. In reality, this is the closest thing to a status quo option we could have found, though that was not our desire. From a week to week basis, not much should change in the life of our church–even when things return to “normal” in our post-COVID world. The positive difference will be that we can upgrade some things and make them more fitting for us as a church body.

The other advantage, at least from the world’s point of view, is that we will be “owners” instead of renters. That suggests that we are permanent, instead of temporary. I do understand the financial importance of now throwing money away on rent any longer, but let’s not confuse any of this with ownership or permanence. First, the Lord owns it all, and we are just stewards of His stuff anyway; and second, this is not our home, any more than it was before. These buildings are, at best, temporary permanence. They are helpful tools for us to do ministry, but they do not define us, not now, not ever. We are the church, regardless of where we gather.

Thank you for your prayers these past nine months as we have sought the Lord’s direction for where He would have us, physically, to gather as a church body. We are grateful for His leadership and His faithful provision of our needs, not just this past year, but throughout the life of our church. And thought this is certainly not an ideal time to be making such a significant move, in the middle of a pandemic, but we are confident that the Lord is in this, and hope to move forward with the purchase.

I do trust that the Lord is taking care of you during these crazy days. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I do hope to see you on Sunday. 

–Pastor Ken