Supporting mission work through WELS Church Extension Fund
WELS Church Extension Fund (WELS CEF) is planning to grant Home Missions more than $1.4 million in additional funding in the 2015–17 biennium, as a result of a newly adopted policy regarding its unrestricted and undesignated net assets.
The policy allows WELS CEF to review its unrestricted net assets annually and then grant a percentage of those dollars directly to Home Missions for the start of new mission fields. According to Ron Hillmann, WELS CEF president, that may add up to more than $700,000 in each year of the next biennium.
Keith Free, administrator for WELS Home Missions, says that this year’s grant will allow the board to start and support two additional missions in 2015 than what is planned using money from Congregation Mission Offerings and special gifts to Home Missions.* “How blessed we are that we need to continue to ask our district mission boards to work diligently in finding new mission opportunities, knowing that there is consistent money to help fund these new missions so that more souls are reached with the saving gospel message,” says Free.
WELS CEF, a self-supporting, not-for-profit corporation affiliated with WELS, provides financing through loans and grants to mission congregations so they can acquire land and ministry facilities to be used for gospel outreach. WELS CEF currently has more than $141 million in low-interest loans to both mission and self-supporting congregations. WELS CEF is on pace to approve more than $20 million in new loans and $2 million in new grants for fiscal year 2014–15.
In addition, WELS CEF has given more than $26.5 million to mission congregations in matching grant money since 1993. In recent years, WELS CEF has also given $2.3 million in special grants to WELS Home Missions to help congregations purchase land or build facilities more quickly than is normally the case.
More than 3,800 WELS members invest $80.5 million with WELS CEF, and WELS CEF has received nearly $22.3 million in bequests and gifts since 1993.
Scott Bauman, a long-time investor with WELS CEF, was first exposed to the organization more than 30 years ago. He has various accounts with different maturity dates, “in case I do need to have access to the funds,” he says. “I put the money in the fund because the synod wins—they get money available to use for church expansion. God’s kingdom is winning with the work that gets done.”
“We continue to be blessed by people investing with us and by remembering us with bequests and gifts,” says Hillmann. “Our first responsibility is to ensure the security of our investors’ money, which we do. Once that is secure, then the extra dollars are used to do mission work.”
He continues, “This is an absolutely extraordinary, rewarding opportunity to serve my Lord. When you see and feel the generosity of the people and how they want to do mission work, it’s a humbling experience.”
*The Board for Home Missions met in April, after the writing of this article. Look for an update on the meeting in the June issue.
WELS Mission Work:
Light of Life, Greenwood, Ind., began as a home mission in the summer of 2009. After operating from rental facilities, the congregation broke ground on its own church facility in August 2013 and dedicated the building in October 2014. WELS Church Extension Fund was instrumental in helping organize and fund the building project, providing the congregation more than $150,000 in grants and $1.1 million in loans. Builders For Christ, a division of Kingdom Workers, put in about four months of work to help construct the facility. As John Stelljes, pastor at Light of Life, notes, “We have received so much support—not just financial support but godly support. It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone and that we have thousands of brothers and sisters who are praying for and supporting us.”
Volume 102, Number 5
Issue: May 2015
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