As many of you know, before the Corona Virus, we were thoroughly immersed in the act of trying to locate property/land for Liberty’s future home, and selling our present building and its adjoining property. While we are still in that process, things have slowed down drastically. Despite our present circumstance, I want you to know we are still grinding in the business affairs of the church, and performing the work of ministry in challenging new ways. For instance—
- We started live streaming our Sunday worship through our church Facebook page since the start of the pandemic.
- Staff still continues to work at the church on those designated days, providing for a safe environment for recording our Sunday worship each Sunday.
- Church administrator continues to provide the resources and media necessary for church to function during pandemic. As a result—
- Members are able to make their tithes & offering, to include Achieving Greater Things Campaign contributions in more than one way, either at the church, or online through our Givelify app, and PayPal for some.
- The trustee ministry still continues to manage the finance making weekly deposits to the bank.
- We were able to get the insurance company to repaint the van, restoring it to a much better condition physically. Thankful to Deacon Willis for seeing this through.
- We transitioned from live streaming our worship on the church Facebook page to a new app which allows us to stream directly to YouTube without the previous issues we were having on our Facebook page, making it possible for anyone who subscribes on YouTube to have access to all our worship services.
- We added new lighting for better viewing for the live stream of our services on Sunday.
- The use of Zoom as our media for Bible study makes it easy for every member to login hear god’s word. While this has been a great tool for sharing god’s word, it’s my hope that more of you would take the time to share this with other members.
- Our Diaconate ministry maintains connectivity with our members, providing updates to the leadership as necessary. Please keep in mind that this can only be as effective as our members reciprocate in the same manner.
- Our Prayer ministry continues to pray for the church and god’s providential care as we continue to go through this pandemic.
- Communion was re-started the first Sunday in June and those same measures will continue to be used until the pandemic is over. In other words, expect the same each first Sunday of every month until further notice.
- Canceled March and June Revivals due to social distancing guidelines put in place since March. Diaconate celebration in August and Family and Friend day celebration in September will remain in play until further notice. I have spoken with both preachers to let them know that the event is still in play and that we will not decide to cancel until a week out based on where we are regarding social distancing guidelines at the end of July and august.
These are but a few things our servant leaders and staff have been involved in. The rest is on-going work I want you to know about, so you can keep the leadership and the work of ministry in prayer. They are—
- Our continued search for land/property.
- We have been looking at a lot of properties. Most exceed the price we are willing to pay and some do not meet our needs for building and future expansion. However, recently, we came across 12 acres of land in Grovetown. Land is off High Meadows Drive right off Columbia road. Owner refuses to parcel the land and prefers to sell all 12 acres for $398,000.00. Reached out to our Realtor who contacted their representative with an offer. We started at $280,000.00 and have reached a counter offer from the seller for no less than $375,000.00 with a down payment of $35,000.00. I’ve looked at the land and it’s flat and more than meets our future needs for building the new church and any other future expansion. Location is acceptable based on surrounding communities.
- Get some key leaders to meet at this location for input before agreeing to accept seller’s counter offer or making another counter offer. Obviously, there are a few other things involved here, and they are spelled out below, but this is the gist of it.
- The plan would be a 3 to 5-year plan to pay off the loan, which would involve (1) the amount of money we would put down, (2) the remaining balance we would borrow from the bank to be fully tendered in no more than 3 to 5-years (should we choose to go this route); we will push to do it in less than the 5-years, with the hope of using the next year to finalize building.
- As an example of what the loan payment might be, I submit the following based on amount of the loan for a 15-year loan payoff in 3-years:
@ $375,000.00, monthly payoff in 3-years would be $10,416.67.
@ $350,000.00, monthly payoff in 3-years would be $9,722.22.
@ $325,000.00, monthly payoff in 3-years would be $9,027,78.
@ $3oo,000.00, monthly payoff in 3-years would be $8,333.33.
Keep in mind that this may be difficult for us to sustain for 3-years, regardless of which amount decided on. But, it’s a plan. Also, it’s our plan to pay off as soon as possible, so the 3 years are simply that, a plan. The banks allotted time is up to 15-years, so we can actually set whatever time, (i.e., 5, 10, or 15, etc.). A 5-year pay off on a loan amount of $325,000.00 (w/$50,000.00 down) would require a monthly payment of $5,416.67. Seller is asking for $35,000.00 as a down payment. This amount is more achievable, but would still require a commitment to giving. At any rate, I believe we can do it within the five years. Again, the goal is to pay off the loan sooner rather than later, so that building the new church can start within the year that the land is payed off. Keep in mind also that we will not have the problem of securing a loan amount for building because we would have shown a history of being able to pay, and we will have the 12 acres of land to include as our collateral on the loan, to include the timber which can be sold for a profit.
*Note 1: these numbers are simply an estimate w/o knowing the exact interest rate.
*Note 2: No final offer or agreement to any offer and decision to purchase land will be made w/o being able to look at (1) the most recent survey of the land/property, (2) topographical view of the land confirming the land is suitable for building the church [listing shows as being level], and (3) having an answer from the city of grovetown, as to whether or not there would be any trouble re-designating the land from residential to commercial. We are seeking answers to these questions.
*Note 3: If, after all questions have been answered to our satisfaction, and if we are able to re-designate the land from residential to commercial for the purpose of building the new church—a decision would be made to move forward with the purchase of the 12 acres of land on High meadows, and the sale of the church would be immediately postponed and re-started 6 to 12 months of paying off the loan on the land. The only exception to continuing with the selling of the church building at 1232 Anderson Avenue, would be an agreement between the seller and the buyer that would allow us to still have our services at Liberty for 90 days, or until we are able to secure a temporary location.
- The selling of the property at 1232 Anderson and all its adjoining properties.
- Still on-going. Organizations and start-up churches are still looking at the church, and there is an on-going interest from the last group that looked at the church, but no other details beyond them seeking assistance from the bank last week.
- Scheduled repairs to the annex floor, men’s bathroom, wall leading into the sanctuary, and replacing stained tiles in annex.
- Scheduled repairs to exterior of building/annex area where wood has dry rotted and separated, to include the covering for the handicap area in the back of the church. The wood needs to be replaced.
- We lowered the initial listing price for all property from $300,000.00 to $250,000.00 due to certain repairs the buyer would have to deal with or take care of on their own.
- Regarding a return to worship as a corporate body.
- Plan is to wait and see what is revealed on July 12, 2020. I realize that some area churches have gone back to having service. But, I have chosen to wait until the next report before deciding as to which Sunday we will return to the physical building at 1232 Anderson Avenue. If everything goes well, I expect for us to be back in church at the end of July, but no later than the first Sunday in August. That’s the best-case scenario without any major changes to social distancing. This means—
- Putting safety measures in place for obvious reasons.
- Strategy for how we are going to prepare church for having service, and one for after service.
- Getting the professionals in our membership (nurses and health care professionals), to assist with making sure social distancing is in place and maintained, masks as necessary, and the washing of hands before and after.
- Note 1: While we are aware of certain members in the health care profession, we may not be aware of everyone who is employed by any hospital or in the health care profession as a nurse or otherwise. Please be sure to identify yourself to our staff so that we can have a record of this when the decision to return is made for us to return back to church.
- Note 2: Asking all members to get tested for the corona virus prior to our return. It’s free. Wife and I have already done so. If retired military, you can do so on post. All others Visit www.dph.georgia.gov for a location near you. There is the swab test for the corona virus and there is the antibody blood test for past infection.
Finally, thank you for your continued financial support through tithes and offerings. The fact that we are still able to meet our financial obligations is a testament to your faithful giving.
God’s Servant, Your Servant,
Don A. Darden, Jr., Pastor, MSM., MTh., MDiv.