On October 1, 2018, Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) rolled out a 40-month note at 4 percent interest with a goal of reaching $100 million in new investments. “Thanks to faithful investors,” said Joe Russo, LCEF senior vice-president of marketing, “we achieved that goal in less than four months.”
Russo added that the note was open to all Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) individuals, schools, churches, districts, organizations and offices of the Synod, with a maximum investment of $40,000.
There were two reasons for the creation of the 40-month note.
The first, according to the Rev. Bart Day, LCEF president and CEO, was a projected future loan demand that LCEF would not have been able to meet without the $100 million in new investments. The second was to celebrate LCEF’s 40th anniversary as an incorporated entity and official ministry and financial partner of the LCMS.
‘You know where your funds are going’
Jon Schumacher and his wife, Judy, invested in one of the 40-month notes and encourage others to invest with LCEF as well.
“One of the advantages I see about [LCEF],” Schumacher said, “is that when you invest with Lutheran Church Extension Fund, you know where your funds are going.
“They lend to institutions that favor our teaching and beliefs, and the funds are used to build churches, grade schools and Recognized Service Organizations, such as Lutheran high schools, that honor our tradition.”
The Schumachers live in Brookfield, Wis., and attend Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Wauwatosa, Wis. Jon is a former member and chairman of LCEF’s Board of Directors, having served on the board in the 1990s and 2000s. When LCEF rolled out a limited-time investment note, he didn’t hesitate to invest.
“It beat all the other rates offered by banks and financial entities,” Schumacher said. He went on to explain that in the past ten years, many savers haven’t earned a respectable return on their savings.
“Many senior citizens preserve capital in certificates of deposit, savings and money markets that, at best, [might give you] a 1.5 percent return. It’s great to see some nice rates come around — the highest rate in a while. I encouraged a lot of people to invest.”
Good news for the church
LCEF Chief Lending Officer Larry Crume said, “We have been experiencing a prolonged high loan demand in recent years with LCMS organizations and rostered church worker mortgage lending.”
This, said Day, is good news for the church.
“It’s important on many levels,” Day noted. “This campaign was in response to what many of our district vice-presidents were seeing in the field, which was that schools are ready to expand as well as churches and Recognized Service Organizations.
“LCEF wants to be ready with the funds to help make sure all that potential growth in the name of Christ actually happens and more people are connected with Jesus.”
One LCEF district vice-president saw that growth firsthand.
“We’re blessed. The 40-month note really served a timely need,” said Diana Raasch, vice-president for LCEF–South Wisconsin District. “In addition to new builds, we have a lot of churches who need to fix their roofs and upgrade worship and fellowship spaces.
“LCEF stepped up and developed a product [the 40-month note] to give our brothers and sisters in Christ the opportunity to join together and help provide the necessary funds for our ministries to move forward. And it’s not only in our district; this has been a benefit for ministry overall.”
Investing in the next generation
For George Wright, administrative dean at the School of Business, Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., the 40-month note was important for a couple of additional reasons.
“First, it … celebrates the accomplishments that LCEF has achieved in the preceding decades as well as sets the commitment for the upcoming decades to build the facilities necessary for worship and education,” Wright said.
“More importantly,” Wright added, “as an LCMS Lutheran university administrator and educator married to an LCMS Lutheran elementary educator, this was a chance to invest in the next generation of Lutheran worshipers and Lutheran-trained children that will be entering the church and secular workforces.”
The Rev. Roger Carlisle, senior pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Wall Lake, Iowa, and first vice-president of the LCMS Iowa District West, is a champion of the note as well.
“I just kept calling it to the congregation’s attention. [The investment] does double duty. The church is able to borrow at a low rate, and LCEF is able to give a small church what it needs to succeed and move ahead,” said Carlisle.
While the goal for the 40-month note has been met, Russo said “the need is still urgent for even more investments because the loan demand is not slowing down any time soon.”
For more information about LCEF, visit lcef.org. LCEF offers a range of investment opportunities from fixed-rate notes to emergency funds. There is also an option, for those under 18, called the Young Investors (Y.I.) Club.
To learn more about how investing with LCEF helps strengthen the church, download the free booklet “Investing Basics: Understanding Your Options.”
Posted June 6, 2019