Meeting Follow Up

Many thanks to nearly 20 representatives of the GNJ Board of Trustees, Council for Finance and Administration, District Boards on Church Location and Building, A Future With Hope, Nehemiah Properties, and GNJ staff who participated in A Future With Hope’s Property Summit on June 17.

We had an excellent exchange of information and ideas. Click here for a copy of our PowerPoint presentation.

Highlights of the presentation and discussion

  1. GNJ owns churches and other buildings located at more than 530 locations. Our properties are worth an estimated $1.4 billion.
  2. Many of our churches are in financial distress. Churches owe GNJ $9 million in unpaid billables with 42 congregations owing $90,000 or more at the end of 2018.
  3. Based upon an index of nine risk factors, our preliminary analysis shows 104 “high-risk” churches and 213 “medium-risk” churches. (Figures have been updated since the compilation of the PowerPoint.)
  4. Many congregations exhibit a mismatch between congregation size (small) and building size (large), thereby burdening the church financially.
  5. The Book of Discipline gives local congregations control over their real estate. Historically, GNJ’s role has been one of intervention only when churches fail. Such a limited role can result in less than optimal decision-making for the church and community. GNJ leadership is developing strategies to work within our polity to assist churches and communities with real estate issues so that they can thrive.
  6. GNJ has formed non-profit mission partner organizations—A Future With Hope, Nehemiah Properties, and Resurrection Gardens—to assist churches in their mission and manage real estate challenges: AFWH for planning and programming real estate, NP for partnering with local churches on redevelopment reuse project, and RG for managing cemeteries.
  7. We face both opportunities and problems; big and small; healthy and ailing churches; in high-demand and low-demand areas. Each property is its own, individual story. Several projects are under way.
  8. At the very least, we intend to develop plans for three tools:
    a. A more professionalized, streamlined BOD Paragraph 213 processes to recommend closing or altering churches.
    b. Legal agreements between and among GNJ, mission partners and local churches to effect redevelopment of buildings to advance mission and ministry.
    c. Resources to allow working on multiple projects at the same time.

A clear consensus of our two-and-a-half-hour session is that we need our entities to come together to develop a strategy for our properties rather than relying upon merely a project-by-project approach.

We intend to communicate with you with our progress.