Remembering what we worship

The church currently leases space in the steeple for the antennas of two wireless phone companies, AT&T and T-Mobile. The rent from these leases currently provides almost $70,000 of annual income to the church. Up until last year, the church leased space to three wireless companies. Because of industry consolidation, we lost one of these leases and the rent that it provided in June 2007.

We have been approached over the past several years by firms interested in purchasing our remaining two cell leases. These inquiries have been getting more and more attractive and the Board decided to fully investigate the possibility of selling our remaining two cell leases. We decided to hire an independent consultant to review the current proposals and to assist us in determining whether selling the two leases would be in the best long term interest of the Church. That consultant has completed his report and has concluded that it is financially beneficial to accept one of these offers at this time. Their report indicates that our offers are at the very top of the range for similar cell lease buyouts, and that market valuations are currently at a peak.

We will be taking this to the Congregational Meeting on May 18 for a presentation and vote, but our thorough analysis has revealed that there are several compelling reasons for selling our cell leases at this time, including: (1) obtaining a substantial sum of money ($$$,000) that can be used to significantly increase our endowment. This will enhance the financial stewardship of the church well into the future, and it will also have the added benefit of substantially increasing the annual distribution that the church receives each year from the trust, thereby helping to support our growth; and (2) eliminating the risk of losing one or both of our remaining cell leases and the significant negative impact this would have on our operating budget since each lease currently provides $35,000, approximately 10% of our annual budget. We already lost one of the original three leases due to industry consolidation, resulting in a loss of annual income of approximately $32,000 this year, and the remaining two have a right to terminate at any time with 90 days notice.

I received the following note today, and it reminded me of cactus’s thoughts on the tax free status of churches, charitable deductions, and how money is used to qualify for ‘tax free’ status of one kind or another. Sammy also challenged who gave more, conservatives or liberals, based on income and percentage claimed.

He used basketball courts as an example, but I also thought of Hagee, Wright, and others in the spotlight. It was also a couple weeks ago that about 30 teens and chaperons from this church went to New Orleans to help re-build a church and a house in the ninth ward of New Orleans, now a twice a year event.

It is worth exploring again the rules of what is worth worshipping, and how. Each kind of giving has its own worth, but how does one measure worth without the use of money on a blog like this?