We are currently completing a National Land Inventory of The United Church of Canada’s more than 3000 properties. Once complete, the information and supporting resources will be shared with both faith communities and presbyteries to stimulate more strategic decision making and planning relating to property.
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The United Church of Canada is in a time of transition. EDGE is currently developing an internal resource team that will support faith communities as they begin to discern decisions associated with property. Holding in excess of 3000 properties nationally, faith communities need to be able to access user friendly resources on an as needed basis. The goal is intended to alleviate faith communities from the cumbersome and intricate process associated with real estate, leaving them free to focus on ministry initiatives.
The track record of faith communities engaging in real estate projects through no fault of their own is bleak. Even congregations well-resourced with legal, real estate and church leadership find themselves in the best case taking years longer than necessary and in the worst case, failed projects with significant losses. The repercussion of this has too often been the loss of a United Church presence within a community.
Our ageing physical infrastructure is beginning to put serious financial stress on our day-to-day operations, further disconnecting us from what God is calling us to do. EDGE is currently in a position to more thoughtfully support faith communities as they begin to look at property. These resources will bring together a holistic approach that will help to avoid past alternatives, such as:
- Decisions that will help address the immediate budgetary issue (i.e., sell a portion of the property to repair the roof) without looking to deeper missional issues. This can cannibalize the property and never addresses the missional concern, in most cases this will continue until the property has been entirely sold.
- Faith communities who are needing to consider closure will often think that disposition is the only option; either through direct sale, or at a drastically discounted price to other community organizations (i.e., Educational institutions, Community Agencies etc.). The potential for reseeding the ministry or screening other ministry opportunities within that community is often overlooked due to lack of energy. Opportunities are missed and future possibilities are lost due to the sale of the property. We may not always know what the future ministry is calling from us, however, through development we can leverage the property to generate additional revenue without sale, while simultaneously creating a placeholder for future ministries.
- Flourishing ministry opportunities are often strangled by outdated facilities. The use of a more comprehensive approach will allow for renovation and redevelopment projects to become more feasible for a broad range of ministries that would not have the capacity to do so alone.
- Even with a clear and appropriate mission and vision, the complexity of real estate projects often become unmanageable, or a sustainable financial model is not achieved. The project collapses and so does the mission.
- We have not really reimagined our ministry in a way that can engage a radically changed social cultural context. In these cases, even a successful development simply provides funds to continue carrying out a missional model that doesn’t work.
Is your faith community considering making a property related decision? For more information, contact Kristopher Tavella, EDGE Property Coordinator and find out how we can help.