United Church of Christ

Cornerstone Fund benefits churches, investors

When Poway (Calif.) Community UCC decided to refinance its $700,000 loan, it turned to the UCC's Cornerstone Fund.

That move saved it almost a point and a half in interest rates or $200 per month—funds freed up for Our Church's Wider Mission, outreach programs and Association and Conference dues. It also helped other UCC churches.

ÒWhen you make those payments,Ó says the Rev. Chris Buckingham- Taylor, Òyou are not just paying off your loan. You're also making loan money available for other churches. It's nice to participate in that cycle.Ó

The Cornerstone Fund makes low-cost, no-fee added, real estatesecured loans available to established churches for capital improvements, accessibility, repairs, elevators, steeples, educational wings and other real estate-related projects.

As of the first of this year, it had made loans to 129 churches in 31 Conferences of $31.7 million. On the other side of the ledger, 1,805 investment accounts held more than $29.3 million in deposits.

According to Cornerstone Fund Chief Operating Officer Gordon Gilles, this is good news for two reasons.

First, he says, Òinvestors understand that there is a stewardship component to investing in the Cornerstone Fund.Ó And, he says, Òthese 129 churches couldn't have had their money without higher loan costs and higher interest rates.Ó

A few years ago, First Congregational UCC in Salem, Ore., decided to remodel.

ÒWe had a Ôhigh church' building with a very inclusive, welcoming kind of theology,Ó says the Rev. Gail McDougle. ÒSo the church decided it needed to do a major remodel of the sanctuary to deal with accessibility, acoustics, aesthetics, and a visual explanation of its theology.Ó

After the congregation adopted a master plan and raised $270,000 in five-year pledges, the church turned to the Cornerstone Fund for a loan until the pledges came in.

ÒThis is good stewardship,Ó McDougle says. ÒIt keeps the resources of the church available for the church. And we deal with userfriendly, very professional people who return phone calls and answer questions, that kind of stuff.Ó

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Phone toll free: 888-822-3863; or e-mail  seymourm@ucc.org, or visit the Cornerstone Fund website  ucc.org/finance/cornerstone.

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