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Presbyterian Mission Agency Board gives investment and loan program some lending latitude

Investment & Loan Program can now make operational loans to help mid councils and congregations during and after the pandemic

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Joe Morrow (right), the chair of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, speaks pre-pandemic with James Rissler, a corresponding board member and the president and CEO of the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program. (Photo by Paul Seebeck)

LOUISVILLE — With unanimous approval Wednesday by the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board, the Presbyterian Investment & Loan Program can now issue lines of credit to, for example, presbyteries for such purposes as maintaining and preparing property for sale.

During an online board meeting, PILP President and CEO James Rissler said that up until now, PILP loans have been restricted to acquiring or improving real property. He said PILP has been hearing during the pandemic that presbyteries could use one-time funds to help pay for insurance, maintenance and utility costs for properties that are being sold — say, a church that no longer needs its building or is closing.

He cited some examples. A church in Michigan plans to sell its building but continue its ministry. The property is larger than the congregation currently needs. Coronavirus has slowed the sale of the property, which is worth much more than the congregation needs to finance  in order to prepare it for sale. “We can help in the interim,” Rissler said.

A camp and conference center in a different state wants to sell its property and needs money to take care of certain costs as it prepares for the sale. Again, the sale will more than cover the amount of the loan.

In addition, Rissler said, several presbyteries have asked PILP if it can cover one-time costs to help their churches during the pandemic.

“Although we see this additional lending option assisting some churches,” PILP wrote in a report to the PMA Board, “we see the greater use for presbyteries as they continue to navigate the evolving landscape of church in the 21st century and the impact on our denomination and their churches.”

A line of credit will be used in order to keep the payback short, Rissler said — 12-24 months. Loans will in general be unsecured if they’re for $100,000 or less, secured for higher amounts. Lines of credit will range from $50,000 to $500,000. They’d last up to five years, and so with a two-year payback, the borrower could once again access the line of credit once the money has been repaid.

The move will allow PILP to extend such lines of credit going forward past the time of the pandemic.

Before entering into closed session, the Board also heard from Barry Creech, director of Policy, Administration and Board Support. Creech discussed the logistics behind an online meeting set for 2 p.m. Monday among the PMA Board, the A Corp Board and the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly.

According to Creech, that meeting is being held to look at revising the 2021 and 2022 proposed unified budget proposal to be approved next month by commissioners during the first-ever virtual General Assembly.

Monday’s exercise will also be a practice session for next month’s online GA. COGA , PMA and A Corp  board members will use PC-Biz to request to speak, make motions and vote. Observers can follow Monday’s proceedings on the Spirit of GA Facebook page and on the GA 224 web page.

The Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri and the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann, will moderate Monday’s online session.

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