Tag Archives: churchfunding

Churchfunding: 2016 Year-End Report

I thought it would be fitting to give a brief year-end report on our house loan repayments. “Fitting” not because this is the sort of thing that is usually published publicly, but because our churchfunding activities were also unusually public. What an adventure this has been! We want to honor God again for providing for all our needs through the kindness of so many people!

(Here is the post that officially launched this churchfunding adventure.)

Renovating a room and adding a new entrance for a piano studio was one of the big house projects we tackled this summer.

Since I am an English literature major and not an accountant, I will give my report in prose instead of a spreadsheet. But rest assured, we do indeed have spreadsheets to keep track of the data. 🙂

We purchased our house on March 25, paying the seller in full immediately, thanks to loans and gifts from nearly 90 individuals or families. About 70 of those were loans.

At the time we purchased the house, we owed a total of $66,162.50. As of the end of 2016, we now owe $61,162.50. Here is the story of the $5000 difference.

We began repaying loans in April, at the rate of $500 per month. We created a pool of our older lenders to repay first, as planned. Prayer and a random number generator in Google Docs selected a person to repay each month. In some months the person selected was owned less than $500, so a second lender was chosen so we could repay the full $500 for that month.

In three months (April, June, September), when we contacted our lender to initiate repayment, they declined repayment, turning the amount due that month into a gift. In addition, another lender, without being selected, contacted us to turn a $500 loan into a gift. In all, $1,475 worth of loans was forgiven in 2016!

The total we actually repaid in 2016 was $3,525. Add that to the $1,475 forgiven, and our total loans due have been reduced by $5000 in 2016—$500 more than expected.

When can the remaining lenders expect repayment?

We still have $4875 due to our pool of older lenders. At $500 per month, that is nearly 10 months. So, unless you are reasonably senior :-), the end of 2017 is the soonest you might expect a repayment.

God willing, however, all lenders should be repaid within 10 years and 3 months—by March of 2027. (That’s $61,162.50 repaid at $500 per month.) And we have not forgotten our plans to ensure we repay a few of you well before that time.

I’ll add a brief cash flow report, too.

Our income is still less than our expenses, so our bank account is declining. But we expected this as we transition to Atlanta income. I am gradually gathering more piano students. (I just signed up another this week, making a total of eight, representing $584 of piano income most months. I hope to eventually have about thirty students.) Choice Books has provided a steady part-time income as expected, and I am continuing Open Hands writing work as I find the time. The decline in our bank account is slowing, and I am hopeful the tide will reverse sometime in the new year. Meanwhile, we do have a little short-term savings that could cover normal needs for a couple months even if income stopped entirely.

House repairs have come a long way! There are still several big projects left that will make life more pleasant, but I think most of the repairs that were urgent for the structural health of the house (sewer leak, termite treatment, pest protection, heat pump, etc.) are now done.

We had some unexpected expenses this summer due to a ministry opportunity. But this opportunity also stirred a few people to share unexpected gifts with us. I am reminded of Paul’s words:

God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Cor. 9:8, 10-11 ESV)

May God make each of us channels of blessing in 2017!

Dwight & Zonya Gingrich

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Churchfunding Update 11: We Bought a House!

Thanks to God, and thanks to the kind help of God’s people—and that is not mere pious, flowery verbiage—we are now owners of a house in Atlanta, Georgia! This weekend our realtor gets the keys for us, and we can begin work on the house as soon as we’re ready.

God willing, there will be many house church gatherings hosted in this space.

Life is now too busy for a long post, but I do want to share the good news. For all the prayers we have lifted, we had better now lift some praises! Do I hear an Amen?

Here is a skeleton record of our last two dizzying weeks:

  • Friday, March 11 (only two weeks ago today!): We receive verbal confirmation that our offer on a house in Atlanta has been accepted. At last!
  • Saturday, March 12: I start driving to Pennsylvania to pick up my wife Zonya and our girls (who were there to visit Zonya’s grandmother, whose health has been declining). I stayed overnight in Ohio, with Rodney and Faith Troyer—Rodney being the CPA who provided crucial vision and guidance for our churchfunding project.
  • Monday, March 14: We drive all day from Pennsylvania to Georgia.
  • Tuesday, March 15: We receive word that our offer has indeed been accepted, and we see inside the house for the first time. It is really nasty! We pivot and immediately visit another house, one I had seen back in January. It is much nicer. I cancel the inspection that we had scheduled for the first house.
  • Wednesday, March 16: We place an offer on the second house.
  • Thursday, March 17: Our offer is accepted!
  • Friday, March 18: I call early in the morning to schedule an inspection of the second house ASAP. My call wakes up the scheduler, who is a grandmother and works from home and thanks me heartily for waking her up so she can get her grandchild off to school! Later in the day I drop off some earnest money at the realtor’s office. We also cancel our offer on the first house.
  • Sunday, March 20: Inspection completed, that evening we head to South Carolina to visit friends for several days. Zonya and the children have a great time. I car shop, without success—but also enjoy some gracious southern hospitality.
  • Wednesday, March 23: I call my Iowa banker, just to be sure we’re ready to initiate a wire transfer the next day. My banker tells me I need to be in Iowa to do this! A mad scramble begins, changing our plans to have all parties present Friday morning for closing.
  • Thursday, March 24: We leave South Carolina and return to Atlanta—about a 3 hour drive. At 1:00 p.m. we go to the attorney’s office and sign for the house purchase. Then we drive all night home to Iowa—spending another 17-1/2 hours on the road.
  • Friday, March 25: At 9:00 a.m.  I am standing outside our Iowa bank—actually, they see me outside and let me in early! We send off the wire transfer for the house purchase. Later the same morning the seller signs the papers at the attorney’s office in Atlanta. We receive confirmation mid-day that the wire transfer was successful and the transaction is now complete!

Since this is a public blog, I don’t want to share too many details about the house here. If you want to know and see more, contact me privately.

But here (visit GINGRICH HOUSE ATLANTA) are some photos of the house God is allowing us to steward. (Photo credits to Christy Smucker.) A few notes:

  • All the outdoor photos are of the first, rejected house.
  • The inside ones begin in the master bedroom, progress through the other bedrooms and the main bath, survey the main hosting area, and end up (with a few extra bedroom shots) in the room I expect to use for teaching piano.
  • You also get a bonus shot showing how pleased my wife is with the kitchen!  I’ll put it here so you don’t miss it. 🙂
“Can you believe it? It’s big! It’s bright! It’s almost too good to be true!” Yes, the kitchen still needs a lot of work, but I expect that a lot of great cooking will happen here. I thank God for remembering my wife when he gave us this house.

Here are some extra photos I took of the kitchen, from the dining room doorway  (looking left, center, and right):




And, finally, here are two shots of the yard immediately behind the house. The house is on the left of the first shot (and plenty of backyard parking space). The second shot pans to the right, with more greenery and an outdoor hosting space across a little bridge.



Well, I better stop. I need to live life and not merely report it!

But please do take time to join us in thanking God for his goodness! And we covet your prayers for the weeks ahead, which will include many decisions, much travel, and lots of time apart as a couple and a family.

Our prayer is not only that these busy days will help free us to be more useful in years ahead, but also that we will honor Christ in each moment, right here and now.

Oh, and one more thing: Next month is April, and we have not forgotten: We indeed plan to begin repaying our lenders, in random order (giving preference to seniors), in $500 monthly increments.

Share your celebrations or advice in the comments below. Thank you!

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Churchfunding Update 10: We Might Have a House!

I’ve been too busy house hunting lately to blog! But it’s high time for a brief update.

In short, we placed an offer on a house, the offer has been accepted, and closing could come as soon as this Friday. The sudden action has left us dizzy and grateful and relying more than ever on God!

This house is not the same house that I mentioned in my last post. That house turned out to have multiple problems that we couldn’t see until we looked inside–especially water damage in both the basement and the attic, with a slope to the property that promised more flooding problems in the future.

Most of the run-off from two properties drains here, then—unless the sump pump is fully dependable—right into the basement.

The moment we stepped out of that house I asked our realtor what he had scheduled next. Did he have time to immediately look at another house?

Regrouping outside the house we rejected. L to R: Me, our realtor, Steve, Zonya.
Regrouping outside the house we rejected. L to R: Me, our realtor, Steve, Zonya, our middle daughter.

He did. So we all drove right over to a house that our realtor and I had looked at back in January. At that point it appealed to me in a lot of ways, but seemed beyond our budget.

Since then it dropped in price. We are currently under contract for buying it for $65,000. More price negotiation may yet happen based on an inspection we had done this past weekend, and we can still back out if we wish.

This “new” house (definitely a well-used dwelling) has a lot going for it. Most importantly, it has lots of room inside and out for hosting church gatherings and piano students, there is plenty of parking space, and the street is quieter than some in the neighborhood. While we might not often walk from there to Steve and Christy’s, the park, or the library, we can drive there in about five minutes or less.

The main hosting area. L to R: living room, kitchen, dining room. The door in the center leads into the "piano teaching room," a bathroom, and a laundry.
The main hosting area: Living room on left, dining room on right, kitchen through archway. The door down the hall leads into the “piano teaching room,” a bathroom, and a laundry.
Two Smucker boys marching over the stream into the back of the backyard. Under all that brush is a lot of stone landscaping, including an outdoor fireplace.

(I’ll likely share some better pictures of the house after/if we actually buy it. For now I’m exercising caution for privacy and purchase negotiation reasons.)

The churchfunding effort that many of you have joined on our behalf is making this house purchase possible! And since we can make a cash purchase offer, it is giving us a leg up on price negotiations, too.

If any of you want to help out more—and make your money go further, and see our house!—then here are some ways you could help:

  • Offer to stay in our new house—starting almost ASAP—to help keep it secure while we wrap up things in Iowa and prepare the house. Sign up to stay for a few days, a week, or a month. Free Atlanta lodging! Not luxury at this point, but hopefully with water and electricity. 🙂
  • If you have already offered to possibly help prep the house, confirm if you still think you might be able. An experienced (and hired) contractor to oversee the repairs would be a blessing. Steve can offer part-time oversight, which is great and may be enough, though he does have a day job. Work tasks will include HVAC installation, wiring, drywall, painting, doors, flooring, replacing window panes and at least one window, and other similar things. House cleaning and yard cleanup will also need to be done.
  • Pray! As first-time home buyers, we are on a steep learning curve. Pray we can make wise decisions that will free us long-term to serve God and others.

I think that’s all for now. Send me an email or Facebook message if you want to discuss any of this further.  (Or comment below with more general responses.)

One more thing: It was a great blessing to have the Gingrich and Smucker families all together again this past week for the first time since last summer! Children and adults all enjoyed it. Sharing a Lord’s Day together—including celebrating the Lord’s Supper for the first time as a fledgling church fellowship—was especially special.

For Christ and his Church,
Dwight Gingrich

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