More than 20 years ago, Jerry Richardson, a lifelong member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pomaria, South Carolina, helped introduce his congregation council to the Mission Investment Fund.
In the mid-’90s, Richardson was chair of the American Missions Committee of the South Carolina Synod. “We were partners with new and developing congregations who had to look for sources for funds for their new buildings,” he says. “I tried to promote investment by congregations in MIF.”
At the same time, Richardson was working with others in his own congregation to start saving toward construction of a new fellowship hall. Based on personal experience and his knowledge of the Mission Investment Fund, Richardson recommended that St. Paul invest in MIF.
“Our appeal to the church council was based on the fact that MIF is a ministry of our church,” says Richardson. “MIF gives you an opportunity to invest at a competitive interest rate, and at the same time support the church in building new buildings. And in many cases, new congregations might have difficulty getting loans from a commercial lending organization.”
St. Paul became an investor and satisfied customer. In January 2013, the church’s connection to MIF would prove fateful. A fire burned St. Paul’s 77-year-old sanctuary virtually to the ground.
Fortunately, the church was fully insured, the Rev. Brent Nichols, congregation pastor points out. As the St. Paul congregation debated how to rebuild, the church chose to invest its insurance settlement in the Mission Investment Fund.
“MIF’s Regional Manager, Jerry Johnson, came and met with our council,” says Richardson. “He explained how MIF would work with our congregation so we could keep the funds invested in a Demand Investment and then have access to funds as needed in the building process. To know that we had that support from MIF meant a lot to the council and to the financial people who were trying to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us.”
Construction proceeded, Pastor Nichols reports, and St. Paul held its first services in the rebuilt sanctuary on January 31, 2016.
“We’ve had a good relationship with MIF,” Richardson says. “They worked with us. Our church has been very pleased with MIF’s role in our process.”