Space for Grace: FAQ

Have questions?

In addition to weekly devotionals, the Emmaus Communities and many other ministry groups are engaging around the Space for Grace campaign. We also held informational meetings on September 13 during Middle Hour and at 12:45pm; on September 20 during Middle Hour; and on September 27 during Middle Hour and at 12:45 pm. See the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and the answers below. If you have additional questions, please contact Sue Burger at (510) 848-6252 ext. 224 or sueb@fpcberkeley.org.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: THE CAMPAIGN

What is the capital campaign goal?

  • The Space for Grace capital campaign goal is $4.5 million, to allow us to reduce our $10.5 million debt by approximately half over the next three years. This could reduce our current $900,000 annual mortgage by about half, to $450,000, to allow us to redirect those monies to strategic ministry efforts.

What are the Space for Grace campaign dates?

  • Campaign giving begins on November 1, 2015 and concludes on October 31, 2018. It is a three year (36 month) campaign that crosses over four calendar years: 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Where is the money from this campaign being spent?

  • All monies collected in the ‘Space for Grace’ campaign will be designated specifically for additional principal payments against our loan. We will not be using the funds for any other purpose.

What about the General Fund and December drama?

  • Space for Grace is an “over and above”campaign. We hope that most everybody will be able to make some commitment to Space for Grace, however it is critically important that we support the General Fund through our regular tithes and offering as a top priority.

Why are we doing the Space for Grace campaign now (before Session completes their discernment about the Gender, Sexuality, Marriage and Leadership)?

  • Session is actively working on this issue and consistent with their process they will be engaging the congregation with more dialogue in the first quarter of 2016.
  • We don’t want to pre-empt Session’s process, but we are not on a trajectory to leave the denomination or change our by-laws. Many have asked about a congregational vote? We don’t anticipate a vote as a result of this discernment process.
  • More likely, Session will develop a position paper for the congregation to consider that reflects our values in light of these discussions. We anticipate further dialogue and in the spirit of First Pres, holding a diversity of views will be among those values we treasure.
  • The Nominating Committee will continue to select future leaders for our church, including Elders, Deacons, Nominating Committee. As always, we vote on these nominations at congregational meetings. When hiring director positions and above, the Personnel Department will continue to form a search team to fill the position. These processes will not change.
  • Against the backdrop of these conversations, Space for Grace is a tangible expression of our commitment to seek the center of our life together in Christ.
  • We prefer to remain focused on our primary ambition to cultivate disciples of Jesus Christ on Mission in the world. These efforts, while informed by our denomination, have also regularly transcended our affiliation with the PC(USA). Throughout our history, we have actively sought and nourished meaningful partnerships with churches, networks, and organizations who similarly seek to proclaim and live the transforming power of the gospel and renewing work of Christ in the world. This will continue.

What are the implications if we do not achieve our goal for Space for Grace by October 2018?

  • Every single contribution to Space for Grace, regardless of size, will be considered a success. Our goal of $4.5 million will significantly reduce the debt we need to refinance in 2018 and will reduce our ongoing minimum P&I payments.

Is there a plan to renovate the Sanctuary or Westminster Hall as part of this campaign?

  • Space for Grace is not tied to any plans for much needed renovation in the Sanctuary and Westminster Hall. This campaign includes creating Space for both ministry and facility goals. While not connected to this campaign, it is likely that needed renovations could occur sooner because of this campaign.

What can I do to help?

  • Pray about what your role might be, as well as for God’s leading for our congregation as we undertake this capital campaign.
  • Prepare to make a commitment to Space for Grace. We are asking people to take their time during these six weeks.
  • Do the spiritual work necessary to re-discover your commitment to this community of faith. Make time to use the devotions that have been created.
  • Talk in your family and your fellowship group. Consider the stories you hear and your own story.
  • Ask questions and we will do our best to provide information.
  • Our hope is that this preparation will make each of us ready to make a pledge to Space for Grace by Commitment Sunday on October 11.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: OUR DEBT

What is the background of our current loan?

  • Our loan was initiated in October 2008 for $12.6 million from Bank of the West.
  • It is a 10-year loan with a 23 year amortization schedule. A typical commercial loan. This means there will be a significant balance remaining ($8.9 million if we make no additional principal payments) that we will need to refinance in 2018.
  • The initial interest rate of the loan was 5.8%. The loan had a provision to re-set after five years, which occurred in October 2013.
  • In January 2009, we agreed to place $4.0 million (about ⅓ of our total loan) into a swap agreement in exchange for a 10 year fixed interest rate for this portion of the loan. This was to hedge the risk of potentially higher interest rates in 2013.
  • In October 2013, the interest rate for the non-swap (about ⅔ of our total loan) re-set to 3.23%.So today, ⅔ of our loan is at 3.23% and ⅓ of our loan is at 5.8%. Therefore our current “combined interest rate” is 4.05%.

What are our mortgage payments?

  • From October 2008 through October 2013 our minimum principal and interest (P&I) payment was about $1,000,000 per year. From October 2013 to the present time our minimum P&I payment is about $900,000 per year. (These figures have been rounded).

Will the mortgage be paid off at the end of October 2018?

  • Most likely not. The Space for Grace capital campaign goal is $4.5 million, which would effectively cut our minimum P&I to around $450,000 per year.

How will funds raised by the Space for Grace capital campaign change our mortgage payments?

  • Our current loan has a provision that allows us to have the bank re-amortize the remaining balance of our loan when we make a significant principal payment.
  • This means that early gifts are very valuable and we could possibly make a principal payment in early 2016 that will reduce our minimum P&I payment at that time.
  • In October 2018 we will refinance the remaining (hopefully much lower) balance and our minimum P&I should be significantly lower than the $900,000 per year we pay today.

Is there a commitment by the church to pay down loan principal?

  • We have an obligation to pay our debt. We have made minimum P&I payments since 2008 due to the tightness of our budget. Space for Grace may allow systematic additional principal payments in the future. We believe the time is right.