MISSION INVESTMENT FUND
A TRUSTED PARTNER
- MISSION INVESTMENT FUND / STRATEGIC PLAN 2016-2018
Reaching $500 million in loans last year was a proud milestone in the Mission Investment Fund’s history. It demonstrates our continuing dedication to supporting the building of this church.
Trinity Lutheran Church was founded 135 years ago by Danish immigrants settling in the area just west of Portland, Maine. Today, Trinity is welcoming new arrivals from parts of the world far from Denmark.
For the second consecutive year, the Mission Investment
Fund achieved substantial growth—in loans as well as assets. We accomplished this with dedicated customer focus and mindful asset/liability management.
The Mission Investment Fund’s strong financial position helps assure our ability to meet our obligations and offer security to our investors. With more than $198 million in net assets, the Mission Investment Fund’s net worth is slightly more than 29 percent of total assets—double the amount that most financial institutions maintain.
$ in thousands as of December 31
$ in thousands as of December 31
MISSION INVESTMENT FUND OFFICERS
EVA M. ROBY / President and Chief Executive Officer
CARMEN M. COBO / Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer
DAVID T. DALTON / Vice President for Marketing and Sales
AMELIA DAWKINS / Vice President for Lending
LYNN MICHALAK / Vice President for Accounting
MISSION INVESTMENT FUND BOARD OF TRUSTEES
SUSAN TROUTMAN / Chair
ROBERT CHILLISON / Vice Chair
MICHAEL F. FALLON, JR.
MARK E. FIEBRINK
THE REV. JOHN E. MACK, JR.
PAUL M. OPGRANDE
ROGER E. SOUTHWARD
THE REV. VIVIANE E. THOMAS-BREITFELD
It’s no accident Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, Minnesota, is home to a vibrant ministry and upwards of 2,500 members.
“When you walk into our space on a Sunday morning or on a Wednesday at any time,” said Normandale pastor, the Rev. Paul Pettersen, “you encounter joyful people meeting together and looking forward to seeing each other.”
Due to several building renovations over more than three generations, however, the church’s gathering spaces were actually making it harder for the congregation to come together as a community.
“It was because of the way the facility had been pieced together over a number of projects,” Pastor Pettersen said. Due to poor traffic flow in and out of the worship space, “people would leave worship and they’d go left, they’d go right, and they’d leave. We were losing a lot of what it means to be community.”
Then the congregation undertook a strategic visioning process, “All Together in One Place.” This multi-year effort included plans for the facility, important outreach activities and future ministry work.
The visioning process resulted in a two-phase renovation project, and the congregation secured a loan from the Mission Investment Fund to help fund the work.
“The Mission Investment Fund’s service has been personal and present, from our groundbreaking to the dedication,” Pastor Pettersen said. “They’ve come through and affirmed the work we’ve been doing from a ministry standpoint and what it means to the church. They’ve been great on the relationship side as well.”
The church’s 40-year-old fellowship hall was among the first places given new vibrance in 2015, and the Fireside Room, formerly a large divided room outside of the main worship space, was opened up, with a vaulted ceiling and a grand west-facing window that offers spectacular sunset views.
“When you update space,” Pastor Pettersen said, “and give it new life, new lighting and openness so there’s air in the room and exterior light, people want to be there–and stay there.”
When you visit the neighborhood just up the hill from downtown Tacoma, Washington, the signs of gentrification are all around you.
In the area known as the Hilltop, new tenants are leasing space in long-empty buildings. Developers are building condominiums, many of which will house employees of the burgeoning University of Washington-Tacoma campus. And the planned expansion of the Tacoma Link system will connect the community to other parts of the city via light-rail service.
All of that activity is helping revitalize a historically disadvantaged area which, through much of the 1980s and ’90s, was riddled with crime and violence. But the gentrification also has a downside.
“We’re seeing families of low-income backgrounds who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time having to move out because they can’t afford the rent here,” said the Rev. John Stroeh, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, the Hilltop’s neighborhood Lutheran church and one in which about half of the congregants are people of color. “We want to maintain the mixed-income neighborhoods and the beautiful diversity. The gentrification trend is one of the reasons affordable housing is very near and dear to our congregation.
“MIF was very helpful in encouraging our idea to purchase homes in the Hilltop and make them available to families in need,” Pastor Stroeh recalled. “MIF saw this as a really great mission opportunity.”
After securing a loan from the Mission Investment Fund, in which Peace Lutheran is also an investor, the congregation purchased two homes directly across from the church. Here, Peace Lutheran offers housing to families who need assistance. Peace Lutheran Church also gave birth to the nearby Peace Community Center, a social ministry of the ELCA. An MIF loan helped finish the Community Center building, and MIF loans assisted the Community Center in purchasing two additional houses, also for affordable housing. These contributions to the neighborhood’s affordable housing stock have helped bring peace to the Hilltop in the largest sense.
“Peace isn’t just the absence of violence,” Pastor Stroeh said. “It’s also the presence of wholeness, safety, justice, community and love. These are the things that we wish for our neighbors, for our community.
“Given all that the Hilltop has been through, we want to be a place of safety and health and wholeness for all people, old and young. That’s a vision that we hold up.”
Trinity Lutheran Church was founded 135 years ago by Danish immigrants settling in the area just west of Portland, Maine. Today, Trinity is welcoming new arrivals from parts of the world far from Denmark. And Jane Sinclair, who has been Trinity’s treasurer for the past 25 years and is the great-great-granddaughter of two of the church’s founding members, can proudly recite the list.
“We have people in the congregation from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Tanzania, the Congo and Saint Lucia.” Sinclair said. “They worship with us on Sunday morning, and the Ethiopians and Eritreans also have their own service, Ethiopian/Eritrean Song and Praise Worship, on Sunday afternoon.”
On special occasions, some of the new congregants will sing in their native languages, Oromo and Amharic. One such occasion was a recent Palm Sunday, when two children receiving their First Communion happened to be from Ethiopia and Saint Lucia.
But Trinity’s support of the new members is evident beyond what takes place during worship. “We’ve become a really multi-cultural congregation in many ways.” said Trinity pastor, the Rev. Karen Indorf. “We’re very active in our community.”
The church’s investment in the Mission Investment Fund helps make that engagement possible. Trinity first connected with MIF in 2006, when the congregation received an endowment from a Westbrook man in honor of his late wife, and a portion of it was invested with MIF.
“We really appreciated that MIF invested in the future of the ELCA,” Sinclair said, “and that they offer opportunities for churches to get loans for capital improvements.”
The interest earned by Trinity’s investment in MIF each year is put to good use. Half of the earnings fund Trinity’s own capital improvements, including construction of a new front entrance, repairs to the church’s electrical system and bell tower, and a new roof. The other half of interest earnings is applied directly to mission outreach efforts supporting the local community as well as global needs.
A Trinity-sponsored food drive in Westbrook,
for example, has proved to be a blessing to the many immigrant families now settling in the area, as has a weekly class called “Clearly Speaking,” which helps young mothers become more fluent in English and thus ease the transition to their new homes. Free childcare and transportation are provided.
As Sinclair said of Trinity’s endowment and the decision to invest a portion of it in the Mission Investment Fund, “It has really helped us tremendously in advancing the mission of our church to help the needy.”
For the second consecutive year, the Mission Investment Fund achieved substantial growth—in loans as well as assets. We accomplished this with dedicated customer focus and mindful asset/liability management.
Loans to congregations and ELCA-related ministries for capital projects increased $31.7 million to $523.9 million at December 31, 2016, from $492.2 million at year-end 2015. At December 31, 2016, MIF had 860 loans outstanding, an increase of 30 over the previous year.
We maintained a high-quality loan portfolio, closing out the year with a very low delinquency ratio—measured by loans past due over 90 days—of 0.95 percent. Our delinquency ratio was also below 1 percent at year-end 2015.
Investment obligations increased to $473.5 million at December 31, 2016, from $464.1 million at year-end 2015. MIF counts 14,384 total investors, including 10,200 individuals, 3,571 congregations and 613 ministries.
Total assets rose to $678.0 million at December 31, 2016, up from $662.7 million at year-end 2015. Net assets, or equity, rose to $198.1 million at December 31, 2016, up from $193.7 million the prior year.
Our capital ratio remained at 29 percent, a decisive indicator of strength and stability. MIF manages carefully to maintain a strong equity position.
As a faithful partner to the wider church, the Mission Investment Fund once again assisted and provided support to key churchwide initiatives. In June 2016, we were delighted to experience the opening of the new ELCA Federal Credit Union. MIF had worked on behalf of the ELCA for several years to secure the charter and assist in the start-up of this vibrant, new ministry that is offering new financial options to the members and employees of the ELCA. Based on the new credit union’s outstanding positions in earnings, capital adequacy, liquidity and management, the National Credit Union Administration has recognized it for excellence in operations—an impressive and rare rating for any start-up to achieve. We encourage all ELCA members and employees to consider the benefits the ELCA Federal Credit Union has to offer. MIF, meanwhile, continues to provide the credit union with financial support and leadership guidance.
And, continuing in our annual tradition, MIF provided more than $3 million to support the ELCA’s congregations and ministries in 2016.
As we state our long-term ambition in our Strategic Plan for 2016-2018: MIF aims to be “a trusted partner in the revitalization and sustainability of this church.” Our work goes on in earnest to encourage investment in this church and to make building projects possible—building projects that allow the church’s vital ministry work to flourish.
Reaching $500 million in loans last year was a proud milestone in the Mission Investment Fund’s history. It demonstrates our continuing dedication to supporting the building of this church. At a time when the voices of church members and leaders are urgently needed in our community, supporting ELCA congregations and related ministries is MIF’s chief objective every day.
As the lending ministry of the ELCA, the Mission Investment Fund is a partner in the revitalization and sustainability of this church. Each investment you purchase from the Mission Investment Fund allows us to fund more loans to congregations and ministries for building projects. Again last year, as a lending and building partner, MIF stood alongside hundreds of ELCA congregations and related ministries that were building or renovating spaces that offered the promise of even more important ministry work.
Our partners’ projects proved as varied as the ministries themselves. Increasing numbers of congregations began fulfilling thoughtful, strategic expansion plans that had been years in the making. Others required simple yet inspirational refreshes to their sanctuaries. Still others constructed new spaces to enhance community outreach—to the poor, the aged, the homeless, the neighbor, the newcomer.
To be challenged presents the purest opportunity for growth and discovery. In this Annual Report, we feature stories of congregations that faced challenges—and responded by creating a new narrative and seeking a closer embrace of the community.
Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina, Minnesota, followed through on a multi-year visioning process to enhance community spirit at this dynamic congregation. Their dramatic, multi-phase building renovation financed by MIF is assuring fellowship, continuing education and worship in suburban Minneapolis. Peace Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Washington—so welcoming to its diverse community—took up the challenge to protect low-income neighbors from rapid gentrification in the neighborhood. With MIF’s help, Peace Lutheran and its outreach ministry purchased several nearby properties, converting them to affordable housing units so desperately needed in the area. Trinity Lutheran Church in Westbrook, Maine, chooses to invest with MIF. Trinity Lutheran, too, supports a multi-cultural membership, with the newest congregants hailing from African countries. Earnings from the congregation’s MIF investments help support vital outreach to these members and other important causes.
These congregations and their members were not afraid to change. MIF is proud to shine a light on them and laud them for their powerful commitment to their communities. We are grateful that these ministries have chosen the Mission Investment Fund to finance such purposeful projects.
If your congregation has a dream, we can help you realize it. Your dreams inspire us; they energize us. Together, let us build your capacity for mission and ministry, to reach out to share the Word of God and fulfill our communities’ needs.
Because of the trust you place in us, with your investments and loans, the Mission Investment Fund grew substantially in 2016. We had a very good year. We remain a strong, stable financial organization.
Thank you for your support of the Mission Investment Fund. Thank you for another year of successful partnership.
Eva M. Roby
President and CEO