Thanksgiving greetings to you all! It doesn’t take a lot of time around NSF to perceive that God has blessed us in amazing ways. As the Psalmist says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1) It’s certainly appropriate and healthy for us to thank the Lord for what he has done. We also acknowledge that some blessings make space in our hallways, classrooms, and parking lots a bit tighter!
NSF has wrestled with our capacity limitations for years. We added a fourth service in 2018 and sent some families to plant Mosaic Fellowship in 2019-20. We’ve done Sunday school classes in a variety of places, including offsite at Fiamma Pizza, Julie Darling Donuts, a law office, and a church on Mississippi Ave. We’re very grateful for the use of those spaces but also long to have a more consistent way to facilitate instruction, fellowship, and discipleship for every age.
Opportunities to buy adjacent property don’t come around very often. When those opportunities came and NSF chose not to make a purchase, it became a source of regret a few years down the line. The session voted in 2017 to purchase any adjacent property that came on the market. In 2019, we purchased 103-109 Frazier and the adjacent parking for 1.5 million dollars. We obtained two much-needed venues for Sunday school or other large events (you’ll hear us call them 105 and 109, their street numbers on Frazier Ave), a kitchen, extra parking, the brick-and-ivy alley, a storage hut, and the retail space currently rented by our friends at Dream Hair Studio.
When we made the purchase, we knew a bit about how we would be using the space, but the actual value has exceeded our imagination as our staff and lay teams have gotten creative. Middle school youth group, high school youth group, young adult dinners, the Chattanooga Fellows and Faith & Work meetings, support groups, Bible studies, monthly men’s Thursday breakfasts and Friday evening hangouts, training for fellowship group and care team leaders, a “green room” for our Christmas concerts, increased VBS space, officers’ meetings, women’s events, concerts, community non-profit events (such as a luncheon for spanish-speaking counselors and health care workers), an arts-and-crafts sale, and other activities have all taken place right on Frazier Ave. Thanks be to God!
As evidence that we can’t see the future but that God knows what we need, consider four unexpected blessings we couldn’t have seen when we made the purchase just over four years ago:
(1) When our services moved into the main parking lot during the pandemic, the parking behind Frazier meant we only lost eight spaces from 2018.
(2) We gained a flat, paved parking lot as a play space and gathering space for outside youth meetings, meals, and soccer games during the pandemic; some of those traditions continue today.
(3) Moreover, we were prepared for an unexpected and unprecedented baby boom at NSF (more than forty children in 2021 and 2022!) because we carved up our old fellowship hall to expand nursery space to accommodate more children. We would have been unable to do this without the ability to use the Frazier properties for teen and adult Sunday Schools.
(4) With inflation in real estate, the value of the Frazier property has increased sharply, well beyond forecasts at the time, enabling us to secure a highly favorable loan that is currently costing us nothing in interest.
The Lord has also provided this property for his future purposes for NSF. We couldn’t foresee everything that would happen with the new properties from 2019-2022, and there will be great value in the future we can’t fully appreciate at this moment. A larger overall footprint increases the possibility of reshaping and refreshing our property in the future to serve the discipleship of every age and stage.
As Chattanooga’s master plan for increased density continues and as real estate costs continue to increase, it will be increasingly difficult for churches to move into the city. It’s important to have churches like NSF with established roots in the heart of the city. Over one hundred years ago, a group of Methodist believers took a leap of faith and discerned that God wanted them to gather for worship and discipleship on Woodland Ave in the North Shore. When they acquired land and built the sanctuary we now worship in, they invested in a future they could not see, one that went even beyond their lifetime. We get the privilege of following in their footsteps, building something for future generations of Christians, Lord willing, over one hundred years from now.
Our original loan in the spring of 2019 was for $1.5 million, and we have reduced the debt by $888,000. Over $300,000 of our debt reduction is from surplus giving to our general fund, so if you have contributed to NSF in any way, you’ve helped us pay off the debt on our building, and we are giving thanks to the Lord this Thanksgiving season for your gifts in his name! We’re also proud of our staff for working hard with budgetary constraints to ensure that surplus!
Many NSFers have given to defray the debt; over half a million of the debt has been retired. We recently received an anonymous letter from two congregants, a husband and wife, who desired to encourage their brothers and sisters to contribute and asked us to consider passing along an encouragement:
We are long-time members of this wonderful congregation. We are continually blessed by how our church worships the King and serves the kingdom. We are always encouraged by NSF’s stewardship.
NSF has significant debt on our Frazier Avenue building purchases, and we’d love to see this debt paid off and funds raised for additional buildings. When NSF began, a small group of families pledged together to develop the first meaningful capital reserves for initial purchases and operating funds. In the same spirit, we have committed to give $10,000 for five years above our normal giving towards our facilities. We want to encourage our families to join us in making a multi-year commitment to see what God might do through us over the coming years.
We’re grateful to the Lord for all who’ve participated in generosity for our general budget and in paying down our building debt. As of November 2022, we have 40% of our debt, or $611,563, outstanding. We invite you to participate in paying down this debt, whether as year-end giving, a regular annual contribution after the example of our anonymous brother and sister, or as an extra dose of generosity on this coming ‘giving Tuesday’. We’re happy to answer any questions. Lynn Davis (email@example.com) can answer financial questions, and the pastors are happy to talk as well.
With great thanksgiving on behalf of the NSF session,