Why Good Management Matters at Lanier UMC

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Thanks to the capable leadership of Dr. Ed Tomlinson and a low-interest loan from the Georgia United Methodist Foundation, Lanier UMC in Cumming is better positioned financially to continue its good work in the community.

Since 1973, Ed has tirelessly served the North Georgia Annual Conference as a pastor, district superintendent, and executive assistant to the bishop while at times simultaneously serving as a cabinet member, delegate, and chair, vice chair, president, director and member of numerous conference-related boards and agencies.

“As a Loan Committee member, Ed provides invaluable insight in helping us meet the financing needs of United Methodist churches,” said retired Foundation President/CEO Rev. Charles (Chuck) W. Savage II. “Countless churches and ministries have been blessed by Ed’s business acumen, strong management skills, and servant’s heart.”

In June 2013, Ed was appointed as a retired pastor serving Lanier UMC. “I came in knowing the interest rate on their loan was significantly higher than what the Foundation could offer. There was also a prepayment penalty clause in the contract, which made finances even harder,” he said. “We have a good group of people here. They were just overextended. They had not been able to pay apportionments recently and had done very little debt reduction in the last 10 years.”

Ed waited until Lanier UMC was able to pay 100 percent of its 2013 apportionments before approaching the Foundation about a loan.

"The Foundation provides better funding and saves us money because other churches have invested their money through the Foundation,” he said. “I felt very strongly that we shouldn’t get the benefits of the investments of other churches if we are not doing our share in paying apportionments!”

As a retired pastor, Ed receives a lower salary and requires no benefits payments. This cost savings, coupled with a loan that improves cash flow by several thousand dollars each year, has proven to be a winning combination.

“Suddenly we’re not only able to meet all the bills and pay our apportionments, but we’re also on track to get rid of this long term-indebtedness. Refinancing has improved morale and enabled us to do additional ministry,” Ed said. “I’m grateful for the Foundation. They do an excellent job of assessing a church’s financial condition. A lower loan rate enables opportunities to do ministry in a way that just paying for bricks-and-mortar will not allow you to do. If there’s no money to do outreach, evangelism, community involvement, or mission work, a church has missed a significant part of its purpose!”

This article was originally published in the Fall 2014 edition of Faith & Money, a publication of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.