Many of you that know me well know that I don’t always write. I am often reflecting on the past and worrying about the future. However, Life is Good! And so, it says on a favorite t-shirt I often wear.
This year is coming to an end. I can’t believe how quickly it is happening. Christmas is just days away. Too often I find myself caught up in the transactional nature of Christmas. I forget that at the very root of our beliefs, God loves us all and we have much to be thankful.
God bless you, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting the Mission Development Certificate Program. Together we can make this world a better place.
By Sarah Peniston, Communications Coordinator
Recently, I sat down with Rob McClure, who served as president of the MDC Board of Trustees for six years (2008-2013), and now continues with the distinction of “President Emeritus.” Rob’s involvement and knowledge of the program goes back decades. He began working at the Synod of Alaska-Northwest in Stewardship and Communications in 1986 when the MDC program was under the umbrella of the Synod.
When first asked to serve as President of MDC, Rob turned it down! He was approached again later, and agreed to a three-year term, tops. Somehow he ended up serving a total of six years as Board President, and we were all the better for the wisdom and experience that he brought to the table.
SP: How would you describe the MDC program?
RM: It’s pretty simple. It’s the same slogan we’ve had for years, and hasn’t changed: We’re “Presbyterians helping Presbyterians.” This program is the only way to give money (to a church-related organization) and actually make money. It’s a no brainer! The other great thing is that when I first started serving as President, 80% of the churches throughout the Synod had received MDC loans at some point since its founding in 1955. That’s very telling in how broad a scope this program has had on our churches.
SP: Was there a pivotal point in your service as President?
RM: Yes, the separation of the MDC from the Synod in 2008. The board and I felt it was in the best interest of the program to get out from under the umbrella of the Synod to protect the investor’s money. At that time, there was much transition going on in the Synod and their relationship with the Presbyteries was in flux. By 2012, the Synod underwent a dramatically “reduced function” essentially eliminating all but the bare minimum of a functionality at the Synod level.
The greater church, PC (U.S.A.), was also going through some big changes. Many churches were leaving and forming a new branch of the denomination (ECO). The board wanted to make sure the MDC program could continue to serve ECO churches. This was a good move.
I have always been interested in the idea of broadening the program beyond our Presbyterian borders. Let’s explore opportunities for ecumenical partnerships, “members helping other members”.
SP: What effect has the program had on you?
RM: It is good to be a part of it, and stay a part of it! I hope more retired pastors invest in it. It’s like that Buick commercial – When you want to know about how good the car is, ask a person who drives it. I am glad to invest in the program so I can encourage others to do so.
SP: What do you miss about your involvement with the MDC Program?
RM: In some ways it feels like I never left! What I miss the most, though, is the relationships with the churches.
'Tis the Season for giving thanks, and here at the MDC program we have much to be thankful for: two new staff members joined our small team in November. Serving each of you has always been at the top of our list and we hope to do an even better job of that with the addition of our new team members. It’s a pleasure to introduce Cynthia Dampier and Sarah Peniston, and I invite you to read on so that you can get better acquainted with them and hear about the unique set of gifts they bring to the table.
Sarah Peniston, our new Communications Coordinator, comes to us as the former Communications Director for the Synod of Alaska-Northwest where she served from 2007-2012. In addition to her part-time hours at MDC, she does freelance work building websites for churches and non-profits, and creating technical illustrations. Earlier in her career, Sarah communicated in a more technical fashion as a Technical Writer at Microsoft.
No stranger to the Presbyterian Church, Sarah is the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister who served congregations in the state of Oregon for over 60 years. An elder in the Presbyterian Church, Sarah attends Cottage Lake Presbyterian Church in Woodinville, WA.
Sarah lives in Bothell and has two daughters, ages 18 and 15. When not working and being a mom, Sarah plays the bassoon and is very active in three community orchestras in Seattle.
We are blessed to have Sarah on board and we look forward to new ideas on how this ministry can grow into the future.
I am not recommending or endorsing any consultant. But I do appreciate helpful hints on the benefits of a well planned capital campaign.
This is an article from Paul Gage, The Gage Group
By Paul Gage
Paul Gage is founder and president of The Gage Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. Gage has more than 30 years of ministry experience and has personally provided consulting for 500-plus successful capital campaigns, assisting pastors and church members to raise in excess of $1 billion.
Hiring the right consultant is the first step to a successful capital campaign.
For the pastor, the consultant is a coach, encourager and valuable resource. A consultant can customize a campaign precisely to suit a church’s size, personality and ministry methods. And, of course, only a consultant brings the necessary skills and objective viewpoint to the church to ensure a successful outcome — qualities gained only through experience.
Step 1: Assemble the right selection team. Some churches have traditionally assembled a stewardship selection team of 10-15 individuals —loyal and well-intentioned people, to be sure.
However, a more targeted, productive approach involves a selection team comprised of two to five church representatives. Together, these carefully chosen individuals will do the research and determine which companies will be invited to make a presentation.
The team should be comprised of the senior pastor, executive staff and key lay leaders. All these individuals will be knowledgeable and able to speak about the church’s vision, purpose for raising funds, and day-to-day ministries — all of which should be crucial to the consultant leading the campaign.
Step 2: Identify and research four to five capital stewardship consulting companies. Contact each company to address questions from your research. Make a concerted effort to learn more about the specific consultant who
will be representing the company and leading your church’s capital campaign.
Step 3: Request references for the individual consultants. Request approximately three to five current references within the past three years. After checking references, narrow your decision to two or three candidates.
Step 4: Conduct consultant interviews. Schedule a two-week timeframe that is compatible for all of your selection team members. Offer a two- to four-week notice to allow consultants appropriate time to prepare for travel. Again, it is important that the consultant who will lead the church’s campaign be on hand as a presenter.
Allow each consultant enough time to effectively present their services; a favorable schedule would be 45-60 minutes for a presentation and 30 minutes for Q&A.
As you vet each consultant, ask a handful of campaign-critical questions. For example, how many churches does he or she work with annually? What does a capital campaign timeline look like for your church from start to finish? What will the follow-up strategy consist of?
What kind of resources and technology tools will the consultant bring to the church to strengthen training meetings, communication, and donor presentations for the capital campaign?
For a successful outcome, it is imperative that the chosen consultant be able to answer such questions easily.
While a great personality fit is a great start, base your consultant selection on his or her personal experience and track record versus a company brand. Companies often change ownership and personnel; you will want to be familiar and comfortable with the individual leading your church through this very important spiritual journey.
Step 5: Evaluate and pray. Evaluate each presentation, and seek for God’s direction in your decision.
These five important steps will ensure a mutually beneficial foundation for both the church and the capital campaign consultant.
Case study: 5 action steps for selecting a consultant
Recently, I received an exploratory call from a church stewardship committee member. Not only was it his first-ever capital campaign, but the church hadn’t conducted one in 20 years.
In talking with him, it became clear he was working with limited knowledge about the church’s future building project and financial needs. To move the conversation in a more effective direction, we focused on the “what, when, and why” of the future project.
As we wrapped up our conversation, he told me there were 25 people on the stewardship committee, and that they would get back with me regarding the next step.
Four weeks later, the stewardship committee chairman reached out to me. He said our firm was one of six chosen to present a formal, 30-minute presentation at the church. All six would take place in one evening, and travel expenses would be my own.
Though the opportunity to meet with the committee was greatly appreciated, I graciously declined.
Though my response was not intended to be arrogant or difficult, the chairman was surprised and did not understand why I opted out. I then explained.
Based on my own experience, I did not see the benefits for the church to entertain six companies within such a short timeframe and did not see how the committee could make a truly well-informed decision.
Looking back on our exchange, I believe the five essential steps outlined in this article can benefit any church in its capital campaign consultant selection process. — Paul Gage
Here is an article that came across my desk and you may find interesting.
By Bill Walter
Just like gifts of securities, real estate can provide donors with many of the same major giving benefits.
Will Rogers famously exclaimed, “Buy land. They ain’t making any more of the stuff.”
For those of us seeking to encourage creative generosity, we might paraphrase this to say, “Give land (or any other type of real estate) — make a generous donation, and receive a great tax benefit.”
Just like gifts of securities, real estate can provide donors with many of the same major giving benefits.
Considerations for donors
Real estate is often the single largest asset held by the average family. At year-end 2013, it is estimated that American households owned about $19 trillion in residential / farm types of real estate.
For your donors, making a gift of real estate is relatively easy. (As we will see in a moment, the church’s decision to accept a gift of real estate can be more difficult.) Normally, an attorney will need to be involved to legally convey title to the property from the donor to the church.
Generally speaking, if the donor has held the property for more than one year, they may be entitled to a tax deduction for fair market value. They also may avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation. However, many additional factors could determine the final value of their charitable deduction, possibly lowering it. Donors need specialized tax advice when making any real estate type of gift.
Compared to the donor, the church will typically have a much wider array of issues to ponder when deciding to accept a gift of real estate. (For this and many other reasons, having a set of adopted “gift acceptance policies” in place can be a huge help.) The church should approach the gift of real estate exactly the same way it would approach the purchase of real estate — by doing extensive due diligence, especially in areas such as:
Is it worth it?
Given all these challenges, one might legitimately ask, “Is it worth it?” Despite the challenges, in most cases the answer is yes.
Often, some of the largest gifts that parachurch ministries receive are in the form of real estate. My own 40-year experience as a charitable gift consultant has witnessed gifts ranging from single residential building lots valued at $50,000, to lakeside vacation homes approaching seven figures. Your local church can have these same opportunities if it is positioned to receive them.
Real estate also presents some very creative charitable gifting strategies. For example, the donor may not want (or be able) to donate the entire property. If this is the case, they have the option to donate only a portion of the asset through strategies known as the bargain sale or a gift of a divided or undivided interest.
For many donors, the recognition that it’s not “all or nothing” is often the tipping point that allows them to seriously consider the gift in the first place. It gives the donor more latitude to “make the numbers work” for their own financial planning.
As with all non-cash gifts, the key to receiving them is to let your congregation know that you are “in the game.” Something as simple as a quarterly bulletin announcement inviting gifts of real estate would be a good starting point.
Help people understand that a “hard asset” like real estate can be transformed into productive ministry that will impact lives for eternity!
Bill Walter is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and president of Church Growth Services, a capital campaign consultancy located in South Bend, IN.
The information contained in this article is not intended to be legal or accounting advice; it is for educational purposes only. Individuals are encouraged to contact their own tax and legal professionals regarding the subjects presented.
June 1st! It's that time again. Our spring board meeting is done; new initiatives are discussed and approved. The days are becoming longer and the seeds of new possibilities are beginning to sprout.
It also a time for the long anticipated touring around the pacific northwest on my motorcycle. I carefully mapped out my 1700 mile journey over the cascade mountains and into the Yakima Valley then north to Maryhill Museum high above the Columbia Gorge and finally along the river heading west to Hood River. The next day meant heading south in Oregon's High Desert country and then eastward to a remote spot on the map called French Glen. Then for the next two days, the journey called for heading to the eastern side of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho before heading home through Missoula, Montana and then west to Seattle.
Sometimes things happen in our life that causes us to make changes. For me it was discovering that I had a small puncture on the bottom of my foot after the first day and decided that I didn't want to risk infection and complications so I headed home. Several years earlier I had a similar experience and for those that know me, understand that once I commit to a plan I complete the journey. I continued to ride in some very hot conditions and when I finally returned home I was greeted with an ambulance that rushed me to the hospital where I spent 5 days recovering from a nasty infection that entered my foot and up my leg. The thought of potentially doing the same on this trip seemed silly. The choice was pretty simple; I cut the trip short.
I am back at work and thrilled to be finally closing on a loan refinancing and getting calls from several different churches discussing potentially new loans. We have also initiated a new unsecured loan program for churches that have a small project they want to tackle. For the curious, give me a call at 206.971.4603 ext 3.
By the way, my motorcycle touring is not done! I have three more trips planned this year, weather permitting. I have learned long ago, it's not just the destination, it's also the journey that is important.
Have you ever felt like you have put on a lot of miles to get your work accomplished? This last couple of months has felt like that for me. It began with a trip to Alaska. Wasilla Alaska to be precise. I had a chance to meet longtime friends and meet new ones at the Yukon presbytery meeting. It had been awhile since I last visited and it was great to be at Yukon's gathering.
Next it is was a time to gather with Olympia presbytery folks at University Place Presbyterian church.
Then I attended the recent Synod of Alaska-Northwest meeting held at the Seatac airport. The Synod meeting was in our backyard (our offices are located in Burien just a few miles from the airport). Each presbytery and their representatives were present. Business was important including adopting a plan to distribute Synod assets to each presbytery.
My last travel was the gathering of North Puget Sound and Alaska presbyteries in Bellingham Washington to officially form the two presbyteries as one. The new presbytery is now known as the Presbytery of Northwest Coast. It was a glorious example of the holy spirit gathering God’s people to journey together as one. Exciting times are ahead for this new presbytery.
No matter how you slice it, an investment in a MDC certificate bears sweet fruit. The Mission Development Certificate program offers a variety of investment options and when you invest in the MDC program you are investing in the growth of churches while at the same time you are earning a competitive interest rate that can help secure your future.
You have many options available to you to invest your money but not many let you know how your investment is being used. When you purchase a MDC certificate, your investment helps build churches....sanctuaries, fellowship halls, classrooms for children and adult learners. Your investment can provide the funds needed to replace the failing heating system or windows, upgrade the kitchen or replace a leaking roof. Most of all it builds a relationship with other Christians like you living in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
The Mission Development Certificate program began in southeast Washington in 1955 when banks would not lend to people wanting to build new churches. It was too risky, and unconventional. It was then a group of Presbyterians decided to pool their own investments and lend the money to congregations. For nearly 60 years generations of Christians have continued this important mission of "Christians helping Christians."
Like any investment option, there are certain risks. Please review our Offering Circular which gives you information about these risks. You can access a copy of the Offering Circular by going to www.mdcprogram.org. For questions about the MDC program call 206.971.4603 ext. 2 or 3.
Have you ever waken up one morning in the dead of winter and say, "when is this going to end?" I find myself dreaming of solo sailing in Alaska. It is just me sailing with all of God's abundance surrounding a tiny sailboat. Unfortunately I realize it is only a dream and my serious thoughts of sailing the inland passage have long escaped me. But that doesn't stop me from dreaming.
Some of you know I have a BMW touring motorcycle. In many ways the motorcycle has replaced my dream of solo sailing the inland passage. This summer I am thinking of taking an extended work related trip. One option involves taking the Alaskan Ferry system to visit the village churches in southeast Alaska as far north as Skagway or Haines then over to Whitehorse, Fairbanks and Anchorage before heading back to Seattle. This would be a fantastic trip but may take a bit of negotiating to be away from the office, home and of course spending time with my grandson.
My second option is to travel north, central and eastern Washington visiting some of the out of the way churches. The country is beautiful like the Alaska trip. What I like most about either trip is a chance to meet folks at church and listen to what is important to them. I also get a chance to spread the story about the MDC program.
It all boils down to relationships. It is our relationship with each other that keeps us in community. By the way, this picture is a favorite of mine by an Alaskan artist, Rie Munoz. The title of the picture is Sunday Service.