The Town Hall gatherings and the Called Church Conference will be livestreamed here:
Frequently Asked Questions
From our Sr. Pastor’s letter to the congregation, Nov 1 2020:
In 1994, our church purchased 17 acres at the corner of Custer and Legacy for future expansion. Since that time, the property has been primarily used for remote parking, outdoor activities, and leased by a local soccer club. It has been a wonderful asset for the church. At various times over the years, we have received offers from developers to purchase the property.
Earlier this year the church received an unsolicited offer that was substantially higher than anything we had received before. In response, the Board of Trustees began exploring more carefully what God is calling us to do and to discern if it is in the best interest of the church to sell the 17 acres as part of our long-term strategic vision that was adopted in 2015.
We formed a team to explore the opportunities to expand our ministries and support the growth of our church with the use of proceeds from the potential sale and the Trustees engaged a well-known real estate firm to help guide us through the marketing aspects of a potential sale. This vision work has brought clarity to our current situation, and has resulted in an offer to purchase the 17 acres for a price that the Trustees, lay leadership and I believe represents a great opportunity to reap a harvest for our Kingdom work that is consistent with our church’s long-term vision and strategy for growth and expansion.
Psalm 85 says, “The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.” This unexpected blessing comes at a time when people of faith are longing to see the transforming power of God at work in the world. And we hope that you will be as excited as we are about what God is doing in our midst!
The Board of Trustees voted to engage the buyer and is preparing to share their recommendations with our congregation in hopes of demonstrating how this potential sale would positively impact our church now and in the future.
There will be two Town Hall meetings where details regarding the potential sale, church growth expectations, parking solutions, and the distribution of proceeds will be shared. This will give church members the opportunity to get more information and ask questions. Town Hall Dates are: Sunday, November 15 immediately following the 11am service in the Sanctuary; and Thursday, November 19 at 6:30pm in the Sanctuary.
There will then be a Called Church Conference on Sunday December 13 immediately following the 11am service in the Sanctuary when the membership of the church will vote to approve or decline the Trustees’ presentation and motion to sell the 17 acres. The Town Hall Meetings and Called Church Conference will be live-streamed, and there will be an option for church members to vote remotely. Please continue to follow our eConnections for more information in the coming weeks.
The 17 acres property was purchased when Rev. Mark Craig, Custer Road UMC’s founding minister, was still here. Last February we celebrated our 40th anniversary, and Mark Craig sat down for an interview. In that interview, we asked him about the 17 acres. He said it was purchased for future expansion, with the idea that the church would at least have the option to move there to be better situated at the corner.
Obviously as our facilities grew and we put down roots, the idea of transferring everything to the 17 acres became less tenable, and didn’t seem to make sense. At one point, Mark told us, there were even discussions of moving everything up the road to highway 121, but that distance was deemed too great, and would abandon our presence in the neighborhood where we are.
Over the years, a number of proposals and suggestions have been made for building something on the 17 acres. As recently as 2015, when we wanted to add a modern worship service, we invited architects to share proposals of what could be built there. Every evaluation indicated that it would be wiser fiscally and practically to invest in our contiguous campus at 6601 Custer Road, and that if we ever wanted to move north for a multi-campus expansion, it was much more reasonable to move 10 or 20 miles north where there is much growth instead of building a quarter of a mile north. The decision then (which began the Above and Beyond campaign that created the Venue, the Commons, and our children’s ministry space) re-enforced earlier decisions that concluded that the 17 acres was best used for parking and as a real estate investment that would one day mature and provide funding for future growth.
The church has entered into a listing agreement with a company called esrp, a well-known commercial real estate company based in Frisco. They did extensive marketing of the property to other potential buyers and were able to obtain a sale price that was even higher than what had been initially offered. They have been terrific partners and advocates for the church.
There are several fees related to the transaction. The largest is the commission. The standard commercial real estate commission is 3%. Our fee arrangement with esrp is covered under a non-disclosure agreement, so we can’t publicly disclose all of the arrangement. But there are three areas where esrp differentiated themselves regarding their fee structure: 1. esrp agreed to a substantially reduced fee of only $ 50,000 if the church only received and closed with a buyer for a sales price of $ 14.5 million or less. 2. They agreed to a fee less than the standard fee (confidentially protected per church agreement with esrp) of 3 % of the total sales price. ESRP is entitled to a fee which is less than standard provided the church receives and closes with a buyer once the total sales price equals or exceeds $ 14.5 million, which it has given the current offer. 3. They expressed (orally) that they intend to tithe back 10% of their fee as a gift to the church. The attorney fees are estimated to be $25,000 to $50,000, title insurance is estimated to be approximately $ 60,000, and there are various other miscellaneous fees such as escrow, etc. The total fees are estimated to be between $400 and $500 thousand.
Our denomination’s by-laws are contained in what is called the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. These by-laws spell out some restrictions on how such funds could be spent. They must be used for capital improvements (such as property and buildings) and not for operating expenses (such as salaries and programs). The Book of Discipline also states that any sale or purchase of land requires a church-wide vote (at a special meeting known as a Called Church Conference). Chapter 6 of the Book of Discipline explains in detail all of the rules for the governance of church properties. If you’d like to read more, a free version is available online here. Page 749 begins the regulations for local church property.
There are four areas that our Vision and Strategy team identified for the proceeds:
Missions (10%, ~$1.5M)
Endowment (10%, ~$1.5M)
Debt Reduction (30%, ~$4,5M, which would eliminate all of our debt)
Future Growth (50%, ~$7.5M)
Many have asked for more specific information about how the money could be used. Some details, however, are not being fully fleshed out at this time. This leaves room for decision making from our regular leadership teams. We have committees made up of dedicated volunteer church leaders, and they give direction to all areas of the church. These committee meetings are open to all church members as well, who are welcome to make suggestions and give input.
In addition to the sale or purchase of land, a church-wide vote is required for capital improvements over 10% of the facility value, any mortgage (any amount) and leases over 30-days.
It is 100% certain that all of the funds will be stewarded by lay members on the committees of Trustees, Finance and the Church Council with the same discipline and rigor as we’ve experienced over the last 40 years. We are excited to dream together about the big plans God has for the future of Custer Road.
Those present on December 13 will indicate their vote by standing. Those watching online can vote via the poll on the webpage at crumc.org/17acres.
Voting is only open to church members. The exact vote count will be published the following day.