Last Sunday, September 23, the congregation held a business meeting to discuss the purchase of the undeveloped 4.23 acres of land directly to the West of our building. We had a lively discussion that resolved in a suspension of any official vote, until our annual business meeting on October 14, so there could be more discussion between members of the congregation and so we could answer some questions that arose. To help answer some of those questions, Apostle Janné Grover will join us in person 7PM, Tuesday, October 2 at the Olathe church. Please plan on joining us. Our intent with this message is to share with the congregation some of the details that, upon reflection and discussion with members of the congregation, could have been clearer, as well as answers to some of the questions regarding ownership of the congregation, World Church policies, and the expenditure of the proceeds of any sale that might occur.
What is the offer?
Kim Lingle of MBL Development met with the congregational leadership on July 15, 2018 after an exploratory drive through Olathe. The offer as it stands is $420,000 to purchase the undeveloped 4.23 acres of land outright and build 48 units of affordable independent living apartments for people aged 60 and up. (In order to ensure that the congregation was receiving a fair price for the land, the congregation requested an appraisal of the land by Walter Appraisal which was completed on September 10, 2018. The land was appraised to be approximately $440,000 in value. After receiving the appraisal, MBL Development increased their offer from $400,000 to the current value of $420,000.) Upon acceptance of the offer, Mr. Lingle has provided an earnest check of $5,000 that is refundable should the contingencies of the purchase (not being able to get appropriate zoning, soil testing, etc.) not be able to be met.
What happened next?
Upon receipt of the purchase proposal, the pastorate shared the conditions of the purchase with the Leadership Team at a meeting on the evening of July 15. The Leadership Team shared their immediate reactions and it was determined that more information was needed in order to better make an informed decision. At that point, the pastorate was charged with following up with the World Church and Bob Billings, as chair of the Finance Committee was asked to seek out relevant information as well.
How did we get to this point?
The pastorate took the purchase offer to our apostle, Janné Grover. She invited us to submit a proposal including plans for our congregation’s use of the net proceeds from the sale as well as what percent of those proceeds we would contribute to the World Church as a reflection of our true capacity to give as stated by World Church policy here. This gift to the Bridge of Hope will be used to strengthen the financial health of and be a blessing to our worldwide church.
With this information, the Leadership Team once again gathered at the church. This time we also invited all members of the Building and Grounds Team, all members of the Finance Team, all members of the Property Strategy Team and a few other interested parties, a total of 25 people. Our main goal was to determine our response to this unexpected, God-given increase: we discussed and decided what percent of the net increase would be contributed to the World Church Bridge of Hope fund as well as pondered the wise use of the local net proceeds. We prayerfully considered those questions in preparation for our meeting. The 12 people who attended, discussed various percentages ranging from 10% to 50%. Based on that discussion, it was decided that the proposal would include a donation of 40% of the proceeds to Bridge of Hope, pending World Church and congregational approval.
Some of the discussion at that meeting was around possible local uses for the proceeds of the sale of the land. This group acknowledged that any upgrades to the building would require significant updates in order to bring the building up to code. There is also a need to bring our building into ADA compliance as well as to repair and improve our forty-year-old building. The Building Team and Property Strategy Team were asked to develop a detailed list of suggested improvements as a sample, though not prescriptive list. The land sale proposal was given to Apostle Grover on September 14, 2018. She advocated for its approval by appropriate World Church personnel.
What guidance does the World Church provide on purchases of this sort?
The World Church policy number 60.21 in the Church Administrators Handbook states: “The use of net proceeds from the sale of capital assets will be invested or used for programs, financial obligations, and/or capital projects that support the vision, mission, and goals of Community of Christ as determined by the field apostle, Presiding Bishopric, and director of Field Ministries. Local jurisdictions may make recommendations to the field apostle on how to use the net proceeds for local mission.” That, combined with the “pause” on capital expenditures over $5,000 that was requested by President Veazey in his “A Time to Act” statement from September of 2017, gives adequate guidance to the local congregation. We are not under specific obligations to spend the local proceeds on building initiatives, but rather, they were a possible sample expenditure that we felt, given the above, that would be worth mentioning to Apostle Grover.
Can the congregation sell the undeveloped 4.23 acres of land without World Church input or approval?
No, we cannot. As is World Church policy, the world church holds the deed and must be consulted and provide approval for any sale of land or buildings under its purview. The original deed of the church can be viewed here.
What is Bridge of Hope?
The Bridge of Hope Project is the effort to strengthen the financial health of the worldwide church into the future by funding the retirement responsibility and building the Temple, Worldwide Mission, and Canadian Mission endowments. Funds given to this project will be designated Bridge of Hope Tithes. Bridge of Hope Tithes will be used first to fund the retirement responsibility and then to strengthen the endowments. Contributions to specific purposes within the Bridge of Hope Project will be honored.
How can I stay informed about changes to World Church financial policies and updates?
The church provides numerous avenues to stay abreast of their information. Congregants are encouraged to keep an eye on the Announcements page of the World Church website. Additionally, the church provides weekly email updates that can be subscribed to at this link. As is deemed appropriate, the pastorate always does its best to also communicate these updates to the congregation as well, either from the pulpit or via our regular email updates.