“It’s been a spiritual journey”.
That’s how Pastor Larry Jung, of First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville, Oregon describes the recent milestone – the early payoff of the mortgage for their church facility.
Founded in 1857, the congregation began raising funds in 1996 to purchase land for a new facility. When the land was purchased in 1998, they were confronted with a major challenge from their city.
“Raising the initial funds, even without a parcel of land available, was easy,” says Jung. “The difficult part was the opposition from the city council. Our city council opposed us because they believed the church would generate too much traffic and noise for the neighborhood. After we defeated their legal challenge, we faced another round of litigation from a group of private citizens. “
Jung continues, “By 2003 we were growing tired and impatient with the whole legal process. One day, I sensed the Holy Spirit prompting me to pray for a spirit of confusion to come over the opposition. I shared this with our prayer team and we prayed for confusion. About three months later, our opposition’s attorney missed a filing deadline with the Oregon Court of Appeals. We were granted the Conditional Use Permit to build our new facility on a technicality: our opposition confused the filing deadline with another date!! The Lord showed us His grace and power in this beautiful answer to prayer which had been prompted by the Holy Spirit!”
The church took out a $850,000 20 year line of credit for the property in 2006 when they moved in and started using the facility. Before they moved in, nearly $4 million dollars was raised. Overall costs for the three-building ten-acre project amounted to $5.2 million. God has graciously provided abundant financial resources for the 360 member church.
Relations with neighbors have improved because the church has embraced an “open yard” policy and welcomed neighbors to use the facility for walking dogs, biking, skateboarding etc. They have sponsored community events such as a Harvest Party, Living Nativity, and Vacation Bible School. Several families who were opposed to the church being in the neighborhood now attend.
One creative approach to raising funds for the facility was a capital campaign launched in 2008 called Freedom University. The idea was to pay off the mortgage in four years and the contributors would then “graduate” from the University. Pastor Jung jokes that they had to go on to graduate school because it took an extra year to pay off the line of credit.
To commemorate the milestone, First Presbyterian Church of Jacksonville will hold a “Burn the Mortgage” celebration and BBQ on June 2. At that time they will bury a time capsule to be opened in 2057- the 200th anniversary of the church.