Celebrating 170 years of Church Building & Loan Fund at General Synod

Founded in 1853, the United Church of Christ Church Building & Loan Fund is the oldest institution of its kind in the United States.

So notes a resolution calling for celebration of its 170-year milestone at General Synod.

Submitted by the Central Atlantic Conference, the Northern Plains Conference and the UCC Board, the resolution commends the many resources and programs of CB&LF to congregations, Conferences and religious institutions, helping the Church live into “God’s Economy.”

A long and storied history

The Rev. Patrick Duggan has been leading CB&LF as its executive director since 2012. He said its history is long and storied, coming out of a meeting of Congregationalists in Albany, N.Y., in 1852.

“Originally called the First National Church Building Society, the purpose of the organization was to expand into the Western frontier, which then included Ohio,” Duggan said. “Their first goal was to raise $50,000 in its first year. They raised $60,000 in six months — today that would be right around $2.5 million.”

He explained that, at that time, there was a great demand for this kind of funding, as banks didn’t want to offer money to churches, and that still resonates today. CB&LF began lending money in 1895, which made more sense than raising money from scratch for growth every year.

The United Church of Christ’s 34th General Synod will be held June 30-July 4 in Indianapolis. For programming, information and more, visit generalsynod.org.

“We fill a need that isn’t met anywhere else,” said Duggan. “We are a mission-driven organization, putting ministry first. We seek to serve the Church. In this time of transformation, especially after the pandemic, we help churches re-imagine how they ‘do church.’ Their biggest assets are their buildings, and they have recently been under-utilized.”

The need is great

CB&LF has experienced the highest number of applications this year than ever before, according to Duggan. “While people don’t necessarily see us working in the background, we are here helping to serve. And when they need us, they find us.”

More than 4,000 congregations throughout the country have partnered to plan, raise, finance and build transformative projects since that first meeting 170 years ago.

“CB&LF helps congregations and institutions in the UCC as well as in other denominations plan, raise, finance and build transformative projects,” the resolution states. “For 170 years, the United Church of Christ Church Building & Loan Fund’s vision has been to transform communities by helping churches live into God’s Economy. The mission of United Church of Christ Church Building & Loan Fund is as relevant as ever.”

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Categories: United Church of Christ News

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