Cheryl Cudiamat knows that even in today’s seemingly impersonal times, there is value in listening and learning from others. That’s why she attended the Partners In Building event last year and shared her story of working with the United Church of Christ Church Building & Loan Fund.
“In our world where everything is so electronic, coming together in person is still so important. It’s that feeling you get — God’s touch,” says Cudiamat, a member of Kahikuonalani United Church of Christ on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. The church received a $1 million loan from CB&LF in 2015 to renovate its two-story building.
This year’s Partners in Building (PIB) event, Sept. 22-23 in Cleveland, Ohio, will connect church leaders with CB&LF staff, capital fundraising executives, loan partners and a range of building professionals and industry specialists. Land use attorneys, design and construction experts, stewardship professionals and active CB&LF loan partners will be on hand.
Registration begins is open. The event welcomes leaders of new congregations and those in transition.
CB&LF strives to reinvent the concept of church through innovative uses of buildings and space. It encourages unique partnerships and applies biblical principles to improve the economic, social, environmental and spiritual vitality of communities.
Partners in Building is a great way for churches to begin a relationship with CB&LF, says Susan Mitchell, Associate Director of the organization.
“The No. 1 [building] challenge is that churches sometimes think they’re prepared when they’re not,” Mitchell says. “I think it’s important that people have one place where they can have a lot of questions answered.”
Those attending the event also benefit from networking with each other, Mitchell says.
“Sometimes we connect churches to other churches that have done what they’re doing,” she says.
Cudiamat, who runs a preschool at the Kahikuonalani church, focused her 2016 presentation on creative ways for churches to generate income. For example, Kahikuonalani used a portion of its loan to construct a commercial kitchen that it rents to local businesses.
Mitchell says the program helps churches in many ways beyond the logistics of construction planning. Participants learn everything from identifying the best ways to build to the importance of having the right insurance.
“We begin by helping church leaders focus on why their congregation exists,” Mitchell says, noting that “the mission of each potential loan partner must align with the mission of CB&LF and our shared vision of transformation. Our work is about more than just a building.
That means that CB&LF team members talk in detail with churches about how the building must serve and advance the mission and not the other way around. For example, Mitchell says, many churches want to serve more youth but need to dedicate areas for young people.
CB&LF also encourages congregations to do community assessments before building. That allows them to identify and better serve a community’s needs, Mitchell says.
The registration fee for the event is $100 per person for up to three leaders from a church. CB&LF will pay the costs of travel, lodging and meals.