Christmases past are littered with the husks of broken toys, never-worn ties and over-the-top feasts. But beyond those forgotten attempts are the treasured "pay-it-forward" gifts that are truly priceless. They can never be compensated — only passed on at the next opportunity or challenge.
The North Pacific Union Revolving Fund is one such gift. Many Northwest Adventists have never heard of it, yet this well-kept secret is a Christmas gift to us all — and it keeps on giving, all year long.
A Simple Formula
The Revolving Fund matches the willing resources of many with critical Northwest needs. And how important those needs are — the gymnasiums, classrooms, sanctuaries and fellowship halls of our Northwest churches and schools. While our church does not glibly encourage debt, many projects require some financing beyond other monies raised. Within the North Pacific Union Conference, some of these financial needs are met by a simple formula: Adventist members invest their money in the Revolving Fund, which is in turn available for low-interest loans.
Think of a local church or school building project near you. Chances are a portion of the financing has come via the Revolving Fund. The reason: Commercial loans, which churches and schools require, are more costly and often more difficult to acquire than the typical home mortgage loan. The Revolving Fund creates a simple avenue to supply the needed funds at a rate — currently six percent — generally lower than commercial loans and with no upfront fees.
Hundreds of Projects Helped
One of the largest recent projects was completed last year: the Columbia Adventist Academy's administrative building in Battle Ground, Washington, required significant financing from the Revolving Fund. A similar amount went to the Puyallup (Washington) Church. A Revolving Fund loan to Walla Walla University has enabled its master plan to move forward. Loans for new construction or the purchase of existing buildings are allowed up to a 20-year term for repayment. Loans for building updates or renovation and land acquisition have a maximum term of 10 years. Loan amounts vary with the project — from thousands to millions of dollars. They enable the Adventist mission to move ahead in all local conferences throughout the Northwest. Currently the Revolving Fund is financing 9 projects in Alaska, 14 in Idaho, 7 in Montana, 37 in Oregon, 26 in Upper Columbia and 39 in Washington.
How much do these loans total? Currently more than $41 million is on loan from the Revolving Fund to Northwest churches and schools. That's a lot of money. But it's abundantly covered by members from the Northwest who currently have a total of nearly $62 million invested in the fund.
Members Make It Happen
Make no mistake. While those who choose to invest in this Revolving Fund do so with the altruistic knowledge they are helping "the cause," they also receive an average return on their investment — currently 3.25 percent — greater than they could get from the average bank CD. The rates, both for outgoing loans and incoming investors, are carefully monitored, not only to ensure thrifty loan rates and adequate investor returns, but also to protect a margin of safety between income and outgo.
In addition, the Revolving Fund follows world church and North American Division policies that define how much debt is allowed. For example, a local church can typically borrow up to 400 percent of its annual tithe or 65 percent of the total project cost — whichever is less. The local conference must co-sign on a church's loan and may, at times, impose tighter restrictions.
It's Carefully and Prayerfully Managed
The Revolving Fund has been with us since 1978 when the NPUC Association officially began administering this special fund that allows members to provide for the needs of Northwest churches and schools. It is registered with the state of Oregon, which requires annual reporting, and the Association board of trustees reviews its activity once each quarter. Those who invest in the Revolving Fund do so with a measure of faith. Invested funds are not insured as are deposits in a bank or credit union. But according to Robert Hastings, Association treasurer, no Revolving Fund depositor has ever lost money. It is carefully and prayerfully managed.
This wonderful resource is truly a gift that keeps on giving — month after month, far beyond the Christmas season. It's all because of the generosity of Northwest Adventist members who pool their resources for the good of the Adventist mission. One individual could not do it; one conference could not match it. But together members from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington create a mighty force for good.
The strength of many provides what a few could not. The individual investments flow out in building loans for churches and schools; the institutions in turn pay back the loans, replenishing the fund and providing interest for the investors. It's a healthy cycle. It's the essence of the Revolving Fund.