Local Pastor Nate Moultrie approached the Shepherd of the Hills UMC Administrative Council during their October 2019 meeting with an idea of retiring the church mortgage.
With some raised eyebrows, the council decided to take on the challenge of paying the remaining $25,000 of the mortgage by April 2020. The plan was to raise half of the money by January and the remaining balance in the month of April.
Rev. Moultrie asked the congregation to do so sacrificially by giving above and beyond their regular giving. He came up with an amount per family and a projection on how this could be accomplished. Being a small congregation, coupled with other financial barriers, the plan was ambitious.
Unfortunately, when January arrived, less than half of the goal amount had been raised and it seemed like the vision had a slim chance of becoming a reality. As the congregation got closer to the April giving campaign, the unthinkable happened: COVID-19!
The pandemic brought quarantine, social distancing, and the shutdown of in-person worship services. At first, giving plummeted and the hope of retiring the church mortgage now seemed like a mirage.
With divine encouragement, Rev. Moultrie did the unimaginable by encouraging and challenging the congregation (of whom 95% are considered to be a part of the vulnerable population) to remain steadfast, continue to give, and be faithful to the mortgage campaign.
Instead of withholding their financial resources, the congregation trusted God and miraculously gave well above and beyond. They met their goal to remove the burden of debt from the church during the height of a pandemic!
"I am so proud of the Shepherd of the Hills congregation for their determination and generosity," said Rev. Dr. Jessica Terrell, Rome-Carrollton District Superintendent. "Their story is a reminder that every church is capable of doing amazing things no matter their size or situation--or even a pandemicI I am also grateful for the effective leadership and encouragement that Rev. Nate Moultrie has provided this congregation."
All are invited to celebrate with Shepherd of the Hills UMC on Facebook Live Sunday, June 7, at 10:30 am for their Virtual Mortgage Burning Service.
"I look forward to attending the virtual note-burning service. It will be a great day to celebrate what they have accomplished and also what they will be able to do in the future with these resources going from a mortgage payment now into missions and ministries," Terrell said.