Hiawassee UMC Refinances Two Loans


Five years after Hiawassee UMC built a new facility, the sense of joy at having accomplished something significant still remains. Today, over 175 members gather to worship God, attend Sunday school and serve its community in an 11,000-square-foot facility overlooking the sparkling waters of Lake Chutuge.

Lack of parking prompted the congregation to build a new church. “We were in a small building downtown that had eight parking spots,” said Gene Jackson, finance chairperson of Hiawassee. “The decision was made to buy four acres of land outside the city limits. Although we went out on a financial limb, the property was fully paid for before we started construction.”

Hiawassee took out a $1.3 million construction loan from a local bank. The original church building sold one month after the new facility was complete. After applying the proceeds from the sale of the building to the construction loan, Hiawassee turned to the Georgia United Methodist Foundation for assistance with a long-term permanent loan in 2006.

“We had a proposal from the Foundation and three other banks in the area. We chose to work with the Foundation because they gave us the best terms,” Jackson said. “We also felt being a Methodist church, and this being a Methodist Foundation, we would be treated well.”

Three years later, Hiawassee contacted the Foundation again. “We refinanced their 20-year loan to a 15-year loan,” said Frank Craft, the Foundation’s former director of lending programs. “Lower interest rates and lower monthly payments resulted in significant annual savings, which will allow them to pay off their mortgage at a much earlier date.”

From the initial planning stages to securing financing, Jackson indicated that it has been a positive experience for the whole congregation. “We have a beautiful yet affordable facility that is filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said.

This article was originally published in the Summer 2010 edition of Faith & Money.