Churches have to make mortgages, too

Are churches facing foreclosures?

What does it mean when they do?

Religion News Service’s Daniel Burke looks at what’s happening out there. His article includes this:

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“There is definitely a trend,” said Dan Mikes, a banker who has specialized in church loans for 18 years at Bank of the West in Walnut Creek, Calif. “Historically, there were no (church) foreclosures.”

Bankers considered churches a pretty safe bet, said Mikes. Passing the plate provides a steady source of income, church budgets are flexible and religious folks pay banks back.

“I compare it to a racehorse and a plough horse,” said Kelly Archer, president of the Church Loans & Investment Trust in Amarillo, Texas. “Church loans have always been the plough horse. They never got the headlines, never were the big kid on the block.”

That all changed in the late 1990s, bankers say, around the same time subprime mortgages and McMansions became hot. Churches competed to keep up with Pastor Jones across the street.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.