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Churchfunding: 2021 Year-End Report

At the turn of every year, as an act of thankfulness and accountability, I like to give a report on our house loans. This year I’ll try to keep it short!

(Background: As many of you know, we purchased our Atlanta house on March 25, 2016, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families. Since this crowdfunding effort was the work of Christ’s church, we coined a new term: “churchfunding.” Here is the post that officially launched this adventure.)

At the beginning of 2021, we owed $28,782.50 in house loans. By the end of the year, we owed only $21,232.50.

Here is how that $7,550 difference breaks down:

  • We repaid $7,000 in loans, at more than the promised rate of $500 per month.
  • We were forgiven an additional $550 in principal and interest by a generous lender.

In total, our house debt declined by $1,550 more than we expected in 2020.

At the promised $500 per month, we should have all remaining lenders repaid within about 3-1/2 years—by about July of 2025. As promised, we are using a random number generator and prayer to select who is repaid each month. If you have a financial squeeze, let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

In Other Developments…

In many ways, 2021 was a pretty ordinary year for us (apart from you-know-what). We didn’t do any significant repairs or improvements to the house, getting distracted in part by vehicle needs. Our van passed 250,000 miles this summer! Repairing a leaky portion of the roof is apparently next, hopefully followed soon by that leaky shower.

Besides my work, most days our family stays busy with homeschooling, driving the girls to their weekly string classes, taking hikes with homeschool friends, hobbies like reading and music, and doing things with our church family. I’m still responsible to schedule church musicians, and I lead music about once a month, usually helped by our oldest daughter (now a teenager!). I’m also in the rotation to preach a sermon every several months.

In our local neighborhood we aim to be good neighbors for Christ’s sake. Lately this has included taking a neighbor a Christmas meal, having a neighbor boy come over to play basket ball, and helping another neighbor look for a missing family member. We’ve also been reminded recently of the crime that occurs around us, praying for those who have been touched by tragedy.

I’ll mention two trips. In July our family spent a day at Edisto Beach State Park in South Carolina. It was our first family trip to the ocean since moving to Georgia, and we really enjoyed it!

A highlight of the year was finally visiting my mother again, in Canada. It was our first time seeing her since the start of COVID–the first time since our trip to my dad’s funeral. The trip was an answer to many prayers. Family ties are so precious!

In Blogging (Lack of) News…

As you may have noticed, I haven’t done much blogging lately. I got stalled on reporting the history of Mennonites and divorce, and now I’m wrestling more deeply with my own understanding of the biblical teaching on the topic. Recently I read a long book chronicling a journalist’s attempt to solve a murder case. The web of leads he got sucked into, some helpful, some dead ends, reminded me of the many exegetical rabbit trails I’ve run down as I’ve waded through varied interpretations of all the relevant biblical passages.

I invite your prayers as I continue to study—that my heart will be open to God’s truth, that I will be granted insight, and that God will guide my desire to serve the church by writing more on this topic. Maybe, at some point, a book? Surveying Anabaptist history and also sharing my own biblical exegesis and pastoral reflections?

Meanwhile, here’s a quick completion of my answer as to why American  Mennonites adopted a stricter no-divorce position. I’ve already suggested that a spirit of separatism lended itself to adopting increasingly rigid doctrinal positions, that American Mennonites had lost touch with early Anabaptist documents affirming remarriage in case of adultery, and that the switch from German to English may have affected their interpretation of Jesus’ divorce sayings.

To complete the picture, I’d want to discuss at least these additional points:

  • The topic of the “divorce evil” was in the air across the nation at the end of the 1800s (very much like “social justice” has been recently), troubling everyone from the President on down, so the Mennonites simply joined a larger political and ecclesial conversation, some of which was moving in a stricter direction.
  • New Mennonite periodicals, founded by John Funk, alerted them as never before to differences in their own ranks on the question of divorce and remarriage, leading to brisk debate.
  • In the periodicals there were calls for annual conferences, partly to resolve such matters of difference; it was at such a conference that a stricter position was officially adopted in 1905.
  • Before this conference some Mennonite leaders, especially some activist younger leaders like Daniel Kauffman, began to say that the only sufficient response to the “divorce evil” was to give no exception whatsoever. This stance seems to have been adopted for pragmatic reasons as much as for biblical ones, for it was only after the 1905 conference that more fully developed doctrinal explanations were published in support of the stricter position.

That’s a quick survey! Each of those points deserve a book chapter, and I’m sure I should add several more.

(And, to be clear, none of that history proves whether the adoption of a stricter position was good or bad; that would require a separate conversation about exegesis, theology, and pastoral care.)


Our family remains deeply grateful to everyone who helped us buy our Atlanta home, and to all who have supported us in so many other ways. Thank you! 

God is faithful! Please pray we, too, will be faithful, and that we can bear fruit for him in 2022.

For Christ and his church,
Dwight Gingrich


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Churchfunding: 2020 Year-End Report

It’s time again to give witness to God’s faithfulness in providing for our housing needs. As many of you know, we purchased our Atlanta house on March 25, 2016, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families. Since this crowdfunding effort was the work of Christ’s church, we coined a new term: “churchfunding.” (Here is the post that officially launched this adventure.)

At the beginning of 2020, we owed $35,062.50 in house loans. By the end of the year, we owed only $28,782.50.

Here is how that $6,280 difference breaks down:

  • We repaid $5,180 in loans, at a little more than the promised rate of $500 per month.
  • We were forgiven $1,100 in principal and interest by several generous lenders.

In total, our house debt declined by $280 more than we expected in 2020.

At the promised $500 per month, we should have all remaining lenders repaid within five years—by about October of 2025. As promised, we are using a random number generator and prayer to select who is repaid each month. If you have a financial squeeze, however, let us know and we will consider prioritizing your repayment as possible.

Cash Flow and House Happenings

Ironically, given the coronavirus economy of 2020, our cash flow was slightly bigger than previous years. A temporary end to piano lessons and slowdown to my Choice Books work were both offset by government stimulus efforts, and after I transitioned to teaching piano online (mostly), my student pool has ballooned to 35 as I head into 2021.

A nearly-empty Concourse A at “the world’s busiest airport” during the height of the coronavirus scare in spring of 2019. I used to service Choice Books displays two days each week at the Atlanta airport. Currently I go there one day every two weeks, though more stores are gradually reopening.

On the other hand, our vehicles are now 15 and 18 years old (go, Toyota!) and we are still years away from having saved enough for a dreamed-of western trip as a family. But, as I often pray with thanksgiving, God is meeting all our needs, which he identifies as food and clothing/shelter, and much more besides. We are grateful.

Our main house improvements this year involved windows. First, I used my spring coronavirus “vacation” to finally strip and repaint the big original steel window in our living room.

We also got the windows replaced on the northern side of the house, in the piano studio and the laundry room.

The originals were single pane and one was broken.

Other projects included painting the front door and some exterior trim…

…building a cabinet in a bathroom…

…and painting the laundry room and installing coat racks for the girls.

Next projects? Well, a dishwasher is on order. Perhaps after that we’ll get the shower in the master bedroom working? Or build more closet shelves? Or make the basement entrance functional?

Meanwhile, we’re thankful for what we have–and that God protected our house in October, when we saw the worst flash flood in our backyard that we’ve seen yet.

Water pouring over our backyard bridge. The manhole in our side yard was spewing hundreds of gallons of dirty water down our driveway, too.

Other News

Our public and private lives continue much as last year. We continue to worship with Cellebration Fellowship, where I am now responsible for scheduling music leaders for each Sunday. I take my turn leading, too, sometimes with the help of my daughters. This year we have met variously in a building, online, and in a campground.

I am thankful for the devotion to Christ that is evident in the words and actions of so many in the “Cell Fell” group. Here’s a photo of most of us from a little over a year ago:

On our street we aim to be good neighbors in Jesus’ name. Sometimes that means sharing food (which Zonya often does) or tools (as I just did now). Over Thanksgiving we loved our neighborhood by spending several hours clearing a nearby hiking trail.

Often our service is through the ordinary means of faithfulness in raising children, loving students, selling Christian books, and writing the occasional blog post.

I’ll end with four 2020 happenings that were noteworthy for our family.

First (in every way), my father passed away in February. Though we have not traveled back to Canada since his funeral (thank you, coronavirus), I miss him. He left a legacy of gentle integrity, hard work, and dependence on God’s mercy. I especially think of him while working with my hands around the house, since he was a master craftsman.

Here is a photo of my family, taken at Dad’s funeral, which happened about two weeks before the Canada-USA border started shutting down.

Second, we finally managed to go camping somewhere besides our backyard. Here is an amazing sunrise we saw from our north Georgia campsite.

Third, we got our first pets! We raised chickens from eggs this spring and bought the girls a cat for Christmas. Having animals around complicates life, but is good for all four of my girls.

You could say our pets have been babied just a little.

Fourth, my wife’s brother got married in December, and my daughters and I provided the special music. Preparing for this occupied much of our time for a couple months.


We remain deeply grateful for all our churchfunding supporters.  We want to faithfully steward this house for Jesus in 2021. Please pray we will walk faithfully in the Spirit of Jesus. May God bless you and make you salt and light in your own community!

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight Gingrich


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Churchfunding: 2019 Year-End Report

A new year means it’s time for another update on our “churchfunding” house loan adventure! How is it working for us by now? In short, we are making monthly repayments as planned and remain deeply grateful for all who helped us buy this house.

(Here is the post that officially launched this churchfunding adventure. We purchased our Atlanta house on March 25, 2016, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families.)

At the beginning of 2019, we owed $41,687.50 in house loans.1  By the end of 2019, we owed only $35,062.50.

Here is how that $6,625 difference breaks down. We repaid $5,750 in loans in 2019 at the planned rate of $500 per month. Why is this total not $6000? Several lenders, when offered their promised repayment, declined the 10% interest we had promised. Also, two lenders forgave a total of $750 in principal. In total, we were forgiven $875 in principal and interest in 2019. We are thankful for this generosity! $875 (forgiven) plus $5,750 (paid) equals $6,625. This means our house debt declined by $625 more than we expected in 2019.

Since we began repayments in April of 2016, a total of 28 lenders have receive partial or total repayment. Another 33 lenders are still awaiting their first repayment.

When can the remaining lenders expect repayment? At the promised $500 per month, we should have all remaining lenders repaid within six years—by about October of 2025. As promised, we are using a random number generator (and prayer!) to select who is repaid each month. If you have a financial squeeze, however, feel free to let us know and we will consider prioritizing your repayment as possible.

Cash Flow and House Happenings

Our cash flow is still tight, but slightly better than a year ago, thank God. I continue to work three days a week for Choice Books, but my number of piano students grew in 2019. I temporarily reached 30 students, finishing the year with about 27—about nine more than a year ago! In addition, as was true a year ago, I have more students who hope to resume or begin lessons in January. By now my biggest growth obstacle is time—do I really want to begin teaching Friday evenings or Saturdays?

Our largest expense in 2019 was finally getting three big trees removed from our backyard. What a relief!

One tree was dead, two were unhealthy, and all three were a hazard not only to our house, but even more to our neighbor’s house. Several initial quotes back in 2016 were for $5000 and $6000, so we cut vines off around the base of the trees, waited for the vines to die and drop, and prayed whenever it got windy. A shout-out to Boutte Tree, who gave us a fair deal ($3,240) and demonstrated a lot of expertise getting the job done!

Other “extra” expenses for 2019 included:

  • A 1-1/2 year Greek class I finished in July (highly recommended—see here)
  • Physical therapy for my shoulder (covered under Samaritan Ministries–mention us if you sign up!)
  • Continued cello and violin lessons for our two oldest daughters (see videos below)

House projects in 2019 were very minor,  though I did do some flood-proofing in the basement and also began soundproofing the door between my piano studio and Zonya’s kitchen—a much-needed effort!

House prices in our neighborhood continue to rise. More vacant homes are being refurbished and inhabited, including on our own street. The real estate website Zillow, which estimated our house value at $81,000 back in March 2016 just before we bought it for $65,000, now estimates our house is worth about $215,000.

Church and Witness

As I shared last year, we are no longer actively pursuing a formal church plant in our neighborhood. We have been attending Cellebration Fellowship in Clarkston, GA, for over a year now. The people there have been welcoming, and we have fit in as we are able. I’m recruited to play piano most Sundays and I preached one sermon this year; the girls enjoy Sunday school; and we’ve all been blessed by the various personal expressions of friendship we’ve received. Loneliness is still real for most of us, however, and Zonya and I are experiencing the common midlife awareness that life has not turned out as we once dreamed.

Despite our questions, “the house that God bought” saw ministry opportunities over the past year, such as:

  • Many piano students and a “Living Room Recital”
  • A neighbor girl who often comes looking for our daughters
  • A hungry man who sometimes knocks on our door
  • Several new neighbors glad for friendship and support
  • Our own children, whom Zonya faithfully homeschools
  • A couple who stays overnight when they come to Atlanta for medical appointments
  • My blog writing efforts
  • Praying for God to put his angels around our neighborhood each night
  • International students who came for a vegetarian Thanksgiving

Dad’s Health

At risk of turning this post into a virtual Christmas letter, I’ll mention one more big change in our family in 2019: This fall we learned that my dad’s cancer has returned, with a tumor in his chest (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). In early December we traveled to Canada, where we helped Dad and Mom and my siblings weigh this sorrow and make decisions about treatment. Dad and Mom have decided not to pursue any chemo, but simply to trust to God the number of his remaining days. Doctors predict less than six months; God knows.

It was a special privilege to spend time with Dad during this visit, joining him and Mom at the medical clinic when the results of his latest biopsy were shared, hearing stories from his boyhood days, and praying together as a family. Thanks to each of you who are praying for Dad!

Me with my parents, Ken and Elaine Gingrich.

We remain deeply grateful for all our churchfunding supporters.  We welcome your prayers as we seek God’s light for the coming year. We want to faithfully steward this house for Jesus in 2020 and be salt and light in our community.

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight Gingrich

  1. Accountant readers might notice that figure is $250 less than what I reported a year ago. That is because on December 31, 2018—after I published my 2018 year-end report—one lender changed his $250 loan into a gift. (Thanks again!)

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