“Love one another” is part of the mission of Maranatha Fellowship Church in High Point, NC, a church that received a Self-Help loan in 2019. (Photo courtesy of the MFC website.)
My role at Self-Help is to advance our lending to faith-based institutions. We lend to all faiths. It may be a church. It could be a synagogue. It could be a temple. It just depends on the market, the mission fit and the opportunity. We take a lot of pride in trying to find a way to make the loan versus trying to find reasons not to make the loan. I think that’s a real difference.
Indirectly, I get the ability to touch so many people through the institutions that we serve. When we make a loan to a faith-based institution, that allows them to increase their outreach and to build their congregations or their membership.
Sometimes a church or faith-based institution comes to us thinking that they need a loan when they first need a plan. We like to begin partnering with faith-based groups on the front-end to make sure they have a feasible plan with the right budget and the right parameters in place so they’re successful in repaying that loan when that time comes. Our average loan amount range is around $400,000 to $500,000.
When we make a loan to an organization that’s growing, hopefully we establish some loyalty and create an opportunity to grow with them. In the early stages of the pandemic as churches were transitioning to virtual meetings, one pastor commented that faith-based organizations remain “first-responders to the soul.” That speaks to the vital link that faith-based institutions provide for so many people in the community.
One example that comes to mind is Maranatha Fellowship Church in High Point, North Carolina. The pastor of the current church, Pastor Harvey “Chip” Rice, began serving a congregation of only eight members in 2007 that met in a small, leased building. Under his leadership through the following years, the church outgrew its space and began making plans to find a new location. In 2019, Self-Help approved a $1.1 million loan that allowed the church to purchase 16 acres of land and buildings that formerly had served a Bible College. They named the new church campus “Communion Pointe.”
This 20,000-square-foot building provides worship and education space on the Communion Pointe campus for Maranatha Fellowship Church.
The mission of Maranatha Fellowship is to “worship God, love one another, make disciples, and endure the trials of life.” The Fellowship’s motto is “Building Lives that Make a Difference.” The church ministers to the needs of its congregation—now nearly 300 strong—and also to the community with service to the local prison, a local homeless shelter and in local schools. We are happy to partner with Maranatha as their lender of choice.
Self-Help’s faith-based lending also has been active in California through our affiliate, Self-Help Federal Credit Union. We’ve had some good successes in California due in large part to the work of our business development officers there. They are covering a lot of territory, and I’m very proud of their accomplishments to date in locations such as Pasadena, Fresno and the greater San Francisco Bay area. We also did our first faith-based loan in Milwaukee in 2021. Bringing a strong faith-based lending focus differentiates us from many other community development financial institutions.
As I continue my work at Self-Help, I hope my biggest contribution is to help us look at things in a different way, to help us grow in the right direction and attract the right people to help us grow, and to help people understand that this is an organization that continues to make a vast impact in our communities.
James Sansom serves as Director of Faith-Based Lending for Self-Help. He joined us three years ago, building on a 40-year career in commercial banking. James says that “lending to faith-based institutions has been a constant for me over the course of my career.”