by Julie Greer
Hello church family! I hope this finds everyone well and safe. You may remember that the Blue Fire Committee presented three issues for consideration at our March 8 Congregational Meeting: a general design for a new Community Building to replace Pilgrim Hall, with a plan for affordable housing on the north side of our campus to ensure financial viability; and a recommendation for early repayment of the 2014 loan from Berkeley Pilgrimage Foundation (“BPF”) that was used pre-fire to refurbish Plymouth Hall.
With respect to the BPF loan: the church is legally obligated to pay it irrespective of any decision regarding replacement of Pilgrim Hall/affordable housing; Blue Fire’s recommendation merely had to do with the timing of that repayment. As set out in an April 9 article in the Carillon and an April 15 letter from SF&A, SF&A has unanimously recommended immediate payoff of the BPF loan using proceeds from the fire insurance money, because interest on that loan is costing the church significant funds that will substantially accelerate under the current schedule. SF&A’s Carillon article and letter go into great detail on the financials involved, which I won’t rehash here. But the upshot is that absent early repayment the church would wind up paying a total of $2,655,450 to repay our $1.4 million loan.
The feedback received from the congregation on this issue has been a hearty “what are we waiting for?” Because of this, Church Council took this question under consideration at our April 25 meeting. We learned that paying off the BPF loan immediately, rather than waiting for June when the congregation will be voting on the Blue Fire Committee’s recommendations, would save the church an additional $9,312 – a significant amount of money. Because the church is legally obligated to repay the loan regardless of what we decide as to Blue Fire’s recommendations, and because repaying it earlier will result in substantial money savings for the church, Church Council voted to repay the remainder of the BPF loan immediately. As a result, the issues the congregation will be asked to vote on will be simplified to the rebuilding design/affordable housing issues presented by Blue Fire Committee.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! My email is [email protected]