This year, the Larger Life Foundation of the Northern Province (LLF) celebrates its 100th anniversary of providing financial support to core agencies and individual congregations in the U.S. and Canada. Previous articles in The Moravian during 2020 describe the 100 year history of the Foundation, and illustrate Larger Life’s support for Moravian core agencies.
Initially, the Foundation’s assistance was in the form of specific amounts paid yearly to core agencies such as The Board of World Mission and The Moravian Open Door. In 2011, the Foundation began making outright grants to a number of Northern Province congregations and ministries, as determined by the board of trustees of the Foundation.
For many years, Larger Life has made loans available to individual congregations. From 1987, the earliest year for which there are accessible records, to the present, Larger Life has made 29 loans to 22 churches in the Northern Province, totaling nearly $800,000.
Larger Life Loans
The loan program is designed to assist Northern Province congregations with “big ticket” capital projects, such as renovations, new building and expansion, and acquisition of land and/or buildings. It is not designed to support operating expenditures or short-term, smaller-cost projects.
“The Larger Life Foundation assisted Millwoods Community Church in providing funds for the purchase of a parsonage when a new pastor who was answering the church’s call required a parsonage,” said David Jones, board vice-chair for Millwoods, located in Edmonton, Alberta. “The previously-owned parsonage had been sold in order to raise funds for sanctuary renovations. Hence time was of the essence, and the Foundation came through with the needed support.
“We repaid the Foundation’s loan well in advance of the 20-year term. We were very grateful that the LLF funds were available – it is so beneficial to have this opportunity in the Moravian family.” It should be noted that Millwoods repaid the $75,000 loan in full within three years, 17 years ahead of schedule!
As of June 30, 2020 there were ten loans outstanding, representing borrowings by Northern Province Moravian congregations in five states, the District of Columbia and Alberta, Canada. The borrowed funds in these loads were used for projects like modifications of the church building for handicapped accessibility, purchase of a parsonage and emergency asbestos removal as part of a larger renovation project. The range of loans among this group of borrowing congregations was from $6,900 to $141,788, for a term of between five and 20 years.
LLF Loan considerations
The maximum amount which can be borrowed is 75 percent of the total project cost, and in no event can the loan exceed $200,000. The maximum repayment period is 20 years. The annual interest rate for any loan is a variable rate established every April 1st, tied to the 10-year T-bill interest rate. Although the rate is variable, it can never be higher than the rate existing at the time the loan was made, plus 6 percent; the 2020 – 2021 rate is a very low 7.5 percent (1.5 percent T-bill rate plus 6 percent LLF). As an example, if a loan were approved this year, say for a 20-year term, the interest rate for the entire 20 years could never be higher than 7.5 percent per year, even if the actual T-bill interest rate increased beyond 7.5 percent over the course of the 20 years.
As a first step, after the congregation’s own internal approval process has been completed, the congregation must obtain District and Northern Provincial approval before filing the application with Larger Life. Every application is reviewed by the Larger Life board of trustees, but the board “meets” with some frequency by telephone, hence the turnaround time on an application is usually brief. Sometimes, the board’s decision isn’t a simple “yes” or “no,” but rather the board may decide to grant a portion of the request.
The loan policy of the Foundation, as established by the board of trustees, as well as the application form to be used in seeking a loan, can be found on the Foundation’s recently renovated website at largerlifefoundation.org. Simply go to the “Loans to Ministries” page, and you will find this information.
For additional information on applying for a loan, contact Tammy Curcio, Treasurer, 1020 Center Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018. You can also contact Tammy by phone at 610-867-7566, Ext. 17, or via e-mail at [email protected].
It is a good idea for any congregation contemplating seeking a loan, particularly for the first time, and before taking any formal steps toward seeking approval, to communicate first on an informal basis with Tammy in order to make the process as smooth as possible.
Jim McMahan is a trustee of The Larger Life Foundation and member of Calvary Moravian Church, Allentown, Pennsylvania