It is with a heart of worship and thanksgiving that I sit down to record what God has so beautifully orchestrated over this last month within the Montrose Adventist churches. It started with a retired pastor kneeling down to pray one Sunday morning.
“Lord,” he prayed, “what would you have us do with our school property?” The 20,000 square-foot building sits on four-and-a-half acres. It had served as an Adventist school for many years and was currently being rented out to another ministry.
Now, however, the local Adventist Hispanic Church was interested in renting or buying it since they had outgrown the chapel they’d used for 10 years.
As this pastor prayed, a strong impression settled on him: We should give them the property. His next thought was: Well, that’s a crazy idea! But the thought persisted.
In obedience to this prompting, he took the idea to the next church board meeting. Discussions concerning the school property were not uncommon during these meetings, but not once had anyone presented the idea of giving away property that would likely be valued at one million dollars! There was talk of selling it and putting the money toward a new church building. There was talk of renovating it and moving the Montrose Church out there. But giving it away? To our amazement, one board member after another spoke out in favor of this “crazy idea.”
It became apparent that if this were brought to a vote, it would pass. But this was way too big of a decision to be made quickly. We decided to take it to a church business meeting.
Nearly a month later, the business meeting ensued with 35 church members showing up to discuss whether we should sell, give or continue forward with a plan to rent the school building to the Hispanic Church. Some members imagined that this would be one of many business meetings, as every possible outcome might need to be discussed at length.
To our shock and amazement, an hour and a half into our discussion, someone called “question”on the motion that was made to give the school and property in its entirety to the Hispanic Church. A two-thirds vote was needed to end discussion before the main motion could be taken to a vote. The votes passed, and just like that, the “crazy idea” planted into the mind of a retired pastor had been set into motion.
I remember thinking, We have just given away a million-dollar asset.
I didn’t sleep much that night. I knew that well-meaning congregations had split over much less. Expecting my phone to be blowing up the next morning with high intensity conversations, to my surprise there were none. Oh, how little faith I have! My insecurities were soon replaced with joy as the head elder of the Hispanic Church hugged me and told me about the tears and rejoicing that were taking place as they enthusiastically made plans for their new mission headquarters.
It was a joy to come together the very next Sabbath for communion service. “Rather than a divided church, we witnessed perhaps the greatest communion attendance ever in church. It seemed that the familiar tunes of And Can It Be and Amazing Grace were carried with a sweeter spirit.
God reminded me of the Bible text in 2 Cor. 9:6 : “The point is this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I think it is time we start acting on more of these “crazy ideas.”
The RMC Property Department is working with both churches to prepare a document that formalizes the gift and establishes the conditions for the transfer. According to the Hispanic leadership, the intent of the gift is that the building will always be used by the Hispanic congregation. Because they (as well as the English congregation) are growing, both sides believe that is what the future holds. However, if unforeseen circumstances arise, there is a desire to have mutual agreement on how or if to return the property.