Loan Helps Skyland UMC Manage Aging Facility

Click image to view more

Eleanor Flanagan, Treasurer of Skyland UMC in Brookhaven, Ga., would be the first to admit that maintaining an aging facility can be a daunting task. Throw in a collapsed sewer line, blown transformer, and damage from lightning storms, and this faith community was facing some serious financial challenges. Flanagan explains how a loan from the Georgia United Methodist Foundation helped get their church back into tiptop shape.

GUMF: Why did Skyland UMC need a loan?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: Most of our physical plant is nearly 50 years old, and some sections are even older. There were many systems that needed to be replaced or repaired, and our reserves had been depleted. In 2011, the primary sewer line to the street collapsed. Over the next five years, we experienced plumbing issues and a series of electrical problems, which were exacerbated by a blown transformer and several lightning storms. The damage that occurred was facility-wide. Most recently we needed to replace 50-year-old cast iron plumbing. Unfortunately the overall damage, which was estimated at around $500,000, was not covered by insurance because it was primarily due to age and not a natural disaster.

GUMF: How did the maintenance issues impact your church?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: Most of the time we were still able to use the sanctuary, although there were a few Sundays where we had to use the Fellowship Hall. The third floor Sunday school classrooms also had to relocate to other parts of the building for four weeks while the electrical system was repaired and the ceilings were replaced.

GUMF: Why did you choose to obtain a loan from GUMF?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: GUMF has been managing our investment funds for many years. We believed they were the only people who could understand our needs and would have our best interests at heart.

GUMF: How has this loan from GUMF impacted Skyland UMC?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: We were able to install better quality systems that will last for many years and also improve many areas of the Church from a safety, functionality, and aesthetics standpoint.

GUMF: What were the benefits of working with GUMF?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: They were incredibly helpful and cooperative. Kent Canipe (GUMF Director of Lending Services) came to our church to explain the loan application process. He walked us through every step with great clarity. He kept us apprised of where the application stood on a regular basis. He even dropped off and picked up the signed paperwork to save us time.

GUMF: Would you recommend other churches work with GUMF?

ELEANOR FLANAGAN: Yes. GUMF went above and beyond the call of duty to help us, advise us, and follow through to get our loan processed. They helped us in a time of need with kindness, courtesy, and professionalism. I would recommend that all Methodist churches go through GUMF. They genuinely wanted to help us and understand the needs of a church. Traditional banks cannot seem to do this because we are not “businesses” with classic P&L’s, balance sheets, and predictable sources of income.