The Burden of Debt
For those of you who know me, you know that I hate debt. Debt is like a giant weight that attaches itself to us and drags us down; it keeps us from being all we are designed to be and do. The Bible has plenty of warnings about going into debt, like Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” While it may shock many of you to read this, the Bible never directly calls debt a sin, but it isn’t talked about positively.
We Have Debt
Just like many of you, Sunridge has debt – about $2.6 million in debt left on our mortgage. Our church has carried this debt and its burden for almost 20 years. When I came on the Sunridge staff in 2006 and learned about our debt and how commercial loans reset every five years, I started praying that God would pay off the loan. we desperately wanted to unshackle Sunridge from this debt and invest in our mission – to help people find and follow Jesus. But, at the time of this post, God has not answered that prayer. In that time of waiting, Sunridge remains faithful and wise in managing God’s money – and it’s important to remember that it all belongs to God.
Getting Out of Debt
When people seek financial aid at Sunridge, part of the process to help them involves reviewing their budget and providing non-emotional unbiased advice. Sometimes that advice includes helping them see assets like vehicles, boats, guitars, tools, or whatever to sell to get out of debt to get their budget back into alignment. It’s incredible how resistant some people are to selling “their” stuff, especially when they need financial assistance. While Sunridge does not need financial aid, we see an opportunity to sell something to expedite getting out of debt.
Every quarter Britt Sipe, our Lead Pastor, sends an email to our financial supporters. In January, he shared some very exciting news that I want to pass along in this blog to our church.
As one of our financial partners, you know that typically in these quarterly letters, I update you on various inroads Sunridge is making toward our mission, along with some of the financial decisions we’re currently making. Although I have much to share about the progress we’re making on the big goals we talked about in “Vision 2023,” I want to focus the content of this letter on one big (huge!) financial goal we’re working on this year – to pay off the mortgage on our property. Bob Santy coined this slogan, “Debt free in ’23!
A little history
We purchased our property in 2003. At the time, it was a warehouse that we turned into the “church” you see today. The building and land associated with it were six acres in total, which enabled us to exceed the city’s parking requirements for a church. Very soon after, we purchased two additional one-acre lots that were adjacent to our property. We did this for overflow parking and because land was cheap then – and “you never know,” right? If you want to view where these two lots are, just drive to the furthest section of our parking lot. You can actually see where the asphalt changes.
Our current situation
Our remaining mortgage on the property is set at 3.5% until the end of 2024. We currently owe 2.6 million. Although we haven’t done an appraisal in a while, a conservative valuation of the campus is over 10 million. The monthly mortgage on our property is $21,000. (I know a church in Temecula that is paying $16,000 a month for their rent!) We are in such a good equity position. Praise God! But the story gets even better. That’s where those extra lots come in.
The big idea
You’ve probably noticed the city of Temecula is almost built out. There’s very little industrial-commercial land available for development now. That makes those lots very valuable. Our executive staff and elder board have been discussing and praying for wisdom about how to best position Sunridge for the future. We’ve met with a Sunridge member who has been in commercial real estate and development for a long time to seek their wisdom as well. I’ve sought the wisdom of former bankers. Based on the consolidated wisdom we’ve accessed, and prayer – we have listed those upper lots for $1.2mil each. If they both sold, either separately or together, we could net over two million dollars, which we would apply to our mortgage. That would make us almost debt free. If they sell, we will put together a proposal to our church to pay off the entire mortgage.
Imagine with me (for just for a short paragraph) what that would mean for Sunridge: to own this campus, mortgage free! What could we do without a mortgage payment? Imagine the freedom that would give us. Imagine the ways we could make a difference. Talk about “exponential potential!” [God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).
“How can I help?”
First of all, thanks for asking. 😊 For now, I’m asking you to pray. Pray for God to do a big thing at Sunridge – to sell those lots at the premium value we expect they have. We want to see God do something only He can do. We want him to get all the glory for what is done through Sunridge. At the same time, start praying for what our church may be able to do if the lots sell to gather the rest of the cash to pay this campus off. It’s pretty exciting to think about!
Well, that’s the big news I wanted to share with you.
In closing, I just want to say a huge thank you for being one of our financial partners in the mission of helping people find and follow Jesus. Your extraordinary generosity in December has really set us up to weather some of the ups and downs of our monthly budgets.
Debt free in ’23,
I hope you are as excited as we are about what it could mean for Sunridge if these parking lot parcels sell. Thank you, Sunridge, for your faithful support and your prayer.