Members of the Greater New Jersey Board of Trustees, Council for Finance and Administration, A Future With Hope Trustees and District Superintendents gathered on June 17 to share information on issues that churches face while managing their properties.
“Helping our churches manage their properties well and so that they can prosper is becoming increasingly important and sometimes urgent,” said Rick Reinhard, Executive Director of A Future With Hope. “Our congregations can’t be present in the mission field if they are burdened by financial obligations that come with aging properties.”
He explained, “Many congregations exhibit a mismatch between congregation size and building size. The congregation is small but the building is large thereby burdening the church financially.”
Historically, GNJ’s role has been one of intervention only when churches fail, which results in less than optimal decision-making for the church and community. GNJ leadership is developing strategies to work within the guidelines of the Book of Discipline to assist churches and communities with real estate issues so that they can thrive.
Greater New Jersey 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. A Future With Hope is helping churches with planning and programming that includes creating Hope Centers that provide asset-based community development and bring the community and congregation together. Nehemiah Properties will partner with local congregations who are ready to redevelop their property and Resurrection Garden is being set up to manage cemeteries.
Reinhard shared that GNJ owns property in more than 530 locations and based on insurance ratings that property is worth an estimated $1.4 billion.
“We face both opportunities and problems, big and small, healthy and ailing churches in high-demand and low-demand areas,” explained Reinhard. “Each property is its own individual story.”
Attendees left the meeting, which was hosted by A Future With Hope, the Cabinet and CF&A, agreeing that developing a strategy for properties has long term advantages for our congregations and ministries.