[This is Part 2 of a 3 Part Series by Regional Minister Eugene James – read Part 1 on the web blog.]
Determined commitment, outstanding preparation, and an abundant anointing are but a few of the attributes that Dr. Frank Gilliard brought to the table as he began the mission to accomplish that which God had called him to do: establish a new community of faith in the Flint area. By investing ten thousand dollars in a building, he had demonstrated his faith and his dedication to do God’s will.
One of the guidelines of the New Church Development program is that the new congregation must have been in existence and viable for three years before acquiring a building. A Disciples congregation in Flint closed, leaving behind a building with a mortgage held by Disciples Church Extension Fund, a financial ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) United States and Canada.
Heeding the urging of the Holy Spirit, I contacted Dr. Gilliard to inform him of the building being available. It would be the ideal location to bring the fullness of the Ministry Plan he had prepared to fruition. I was well aware of the building acquisition policy, the improbability of approval by Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), and there was no guarantee of the Region agreeing to share responsibility for the mortgage. It was not my battle to fight; God is able.
As chair of the Church Growth and Vitality Commission of the Region and the Barnabas assigned to Dr. Gilliard, I was in a unique position to be used by God in the effort to acquire the property. After conversations with Dr. Gilliard, we met at the property to allow him the opportunity to make a careful assessment of its potential for his ministry. After he had discussions with his wife, Sis, (Yvonne Gilliard), the decision was made to pursue acquiring the property. She agreed even though it meant that they would lose the ten thousand dollars put down on the other building. Reflect on that for a moment.
DCEF, formerly known as Board of Church Extension, was organized in 1883 to help new congregations of the growing Stone-Campbell movement acquire building space. It continues to provide low interest loans and many other services to those congregations. New Church Development was housed in Disciples Church Extension Fund at the time and, directed by the Holy Spirit, I contacted Rev. Rick Morse, who was in charge of New Church Development and had other responsibilities with DCEF. I informed him of the discussions between Dr. Gilliard and me concerning his desire to change his plans and acquire the property on Pasadena Avenue.
Rev. Morse didn’t put me off, but listened patiently and carefully to what I shared with him in support of Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) assuming the mortgage for that property. He agreed that Dr. Gilliard’s Ministry Plan was excellent and that he was impressed with him. It was made clear that for the assumption of the mortgage to have any chance of occurring, the Region would be required to share responsibility. He stated that he would convey the proposal to the decision makers at Church Extension (DCEF).
Dr. Gilliard had made an impression on Dr. Jon Lacey, Interim Regional Minister, who had discussed an idea concerning an existing congregation with him. I presented the proposal that Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) would assume the mortgage for the property on Pasadena Avenue to Dr. Lacey. After some discussion, which included concerns with regard to the additional financial risk to the Region, he agreed to present the proposal to the Regional Board.
At the next meeting of the Regional Board, the proposal for Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to assume the mortgage held by Church Extension for the property on Pasadena Avenue in Flint was presented. After thorough discussion and inquiry, the Board approved the Region sharing responsibility for the mortgage if Church Extension agreed to the assumption. A letter to Church Extension conveyed the decision made by the Board, which was approved by the DCEF Loan Committee.
Needless to say, there was great rejoicing at the news that the transfer of the mortgage on the property on Pasadena Avenue to Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) had been approved. To God be the glory.
The miracle continues – more to come.
Your regional minister,
Eugene W. James, Jr.