Gift of an old church property revitalizes community

For close to four decades, NCF has helped thousands of givers leverage their resources to make innovative, non-cash gifts that share God’s love with the world. The beautiful story of one of these gifts involves the donation of a unique church property. It all began with an unexpected phone call.

A deacon from Confederate Avenue Baptist, a church located in one of Atlanta’s rapidly gentrifying intown neighborhoods, reached out to NCF with an unusual request:

“Our church was once vibrant, but it has declined over the years because many of our original members have moved or passed away,” he said. “Our congregation has dwindled down to just a handful of us, and we believe that to hang on to this valuable property and church building isn’t good stewardship. So, we want to give it away. Someone told us that NCF could help with that. Please help us give our church away.”

One of NCF’s team members, Dan Glaze, agreed to meet the deacon at the church to tour the property and talk through their options. As Dan and the deacon walked through the beautiful, historic building, with its solid brick exterior and traditional stone columns, Dan commented, “You could very easily put this church up for sale, and, based on the location, the acreage, and the excellent condition of the building, you could probably sell it for a few million dollars.”

Confederate Ave Baptist was once a vibrant church in Atlanta's historic Grant Park neighborhood.

But the deacon replied, “Dan, we want to align ourselves with a Christian organization such as NCF because we know that you will distribute the money for kingdom impact here. If we sold it and the proceeds went to organizations that did not align with our vision, it would go towards supporting programs in other places. We want this gift to make an impact here in the Grant Park community where we have been serving for decades. We would like for it to continue to have an impact in this city, but we don’t know how.”

Dan explained that they could gift their real estate to NCF, and a receipt for the tax-deductible donation would be provided in exchange for the deed. Then, when the property was liquidated, the proceeds would be placed in a Giving Fund at NCF. The church leaders would be able to advise NCF on what charities they would like to support with the proceeds of the sale before the church closed, and NCF would ensure the proceeds would be distributed within the community accordingly. “We want ministries who are doing work for inner-city children to be blessed by this property,” the deacon said, adding that he would send Dan a list of ministries in the area.

Atlanta Youth Academy serves students in pre-K through 8th grade.

The deacons of the church moved forward, and after the gift of the church was complete, NCF put the property up for sale. But in the meantime, NCF was approached by a representative from a local church plant that was meeting in a little school building nearby. The small congregation was growing, and they felt that the larger church building would help them expand. They asked if NCF would consider renting the church to them.

NCF’s asset management team reviewed the request from the church plant and determined that a monthly lease agreement would be a beneficial arrangement. The Confederate Avenue church leaders also expressed their delight at the possibility of the building being used as a church again. Soon, the new congregation moved in, and their monthly rent payment was placed into the Confederate Avenue Baptist Church Fund at NCF.

As time passed, the new church tenants began to thrive and grow, along with their financial resources. And they approached NCF again. But this time, they wanted to buy the property. NCF arranged a loan, and they began to make payments.

Today, as their loan payments come in each month, grant checks to ministries go out. One of those ministry recipients is Atlanta Youth Academy, a school which offers Christ-centered education to low-income, urban communities. Founded in 1997, Atlanta Youth Academy serves 150 students in pre-K through eighth grade. The school offers a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, on par with top independent schools, all with a Christian focus.

Dan recently had the opportunity to attend a luncheon at the school. “A young student who sat at our table told us that she has been accepted to a major university with a scholarship. She said, ‘Mr. Glaze, I would still be living in extreme poverty if it wasn’t for Atlanta Youth Academy.’”

As Dan reflects on the generosity of the deacons of this dying church, he says that it has been an awe-inspiring experience to watch God at work in every step of their innovative real estate gift.

“It’s a God thing,” he says. “The original deacons of Confederate Avenue Baptist Church had a vision to continue making an impact in their community, and the new church plant, Atlanta Youth Academy, and other ministries were called to help those dreams and passions be fulfilled. And NCF gets to be a vehicle for the whole process. NCF stands at the divine intersection of serving givers who have a vision and the ministries who are helping accomplish it. It’s really a beautiful place to be.”

Photos: Atlanta Youth Academy

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