Loan Enhances the Ministry of Dacula UMC
You know God’s spirit is moving in a mighty way when a church attracts nearly 100 high school students to a 6 am weekly devotion. The Georgia United Methodist Foundation interviewed Dr. Matthew Mitchell, the former senior pastor of Dacula UMC in Dacula, Georgia, to get his take on its vibrant ministry and recent experience borrowing from the Loan Fund.
Q: What is the mission of Dacula UMC?
A: Encountering, equipping, embracing. We want to help people encounter God; equip people to be disciples who serve God; and embrace people with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.
Q: Dacula UMC has experienced strong growth in membership, attendance and giving. What attracts families to your church?
A: In May of 2010, we merged with Mt. Zion UMC, a traditional African-American church. We strive to do things in a unique and authentic way for the Dacula community. The church is a true picture of what the kingdom of God will look like. People from different backgrounds and areas of the world worship and serve here each week.
Q: Does Dacula UMC place a special emphasis on reaching the youth?
A: Yes. Mt. Zion UMC was located across from Dacula High School. When we merged, we turned it into a student life campus. Friday mornings, approximately 100 students from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meet here at 6 am. On Friday nights, we tailgate before football games. Cub Scouts and other community groups also use the facility.
Q: Why did Dacula UMC choose to work with the Georgia United Methodist Foundation Loan Fund?
A: We had two goals we wanted to accomplish. With the refinance, it was to leave a traditional lending institution. They were two points higher than the rate at the Foundation. There were penalties for leaving, penalties for early payment, and all these stipulations that weren’t friendly to us. We contacted the Foundation and saw very quickly that it would be a whole lot easier to do business with the Foundation than a “brick and mortar” bank. The second side is that deferred maintenance issues were not being addressed. We needed new paint, carpet, an air conditioner, projector, sound system, lighting and a stove. Once the improvements were finished, we combined the two loans into one permanent $645,000 loan.
Q: What were the benefits of working with the Foundation?
A: The loan process was simple. From a budgetary standpoint, it helped our cash flow. We are saving $24,000 per year. Frank Craft, the director of lending services, spoke our language. He had all of our reports on membership trends and financial growth. He truly understood our business and was not looking at the bottom line.
Q: Would you recommend the Foundation to other United Methodist churches?
A: Yes. People I served alongside for four years at Pine Mountain UMC raved about their experience refinancing with the Foundation. It made the decision to work with the Foundation even easier. This is how the Connectional System is supposed to work!
This article was originally published in the Fall 2011 edition of Faith & Money.