A Very Good Year

An interview with Larry McCooey, president ADF


alife: Could you briefly explain ADF’s ministry?
ADF was formed in 1978 to provide real estate private funding so Alliance ministries can buy or renovate property. Our Alliance family members and friends invest in various saving products that ADF offers, and we loan that money to churches. We pay the investors a rate of return and charge the churches interest on their loans. The difference between those two rates is used to pay our operating costs and to build our reserves.

al: Why should churches planning a new construction or expansion consider ADF over a traditional lending institution?
We’ve been doing this a long time; we understand ministry; we have the same heart. We do things a bank wouldn’t do, like give lower rates for loans to new churches, because that’s who we are—that’s our purpose. We always say it’s OK to mortgage your building, but it’s not OK to mortgage your ministry. The other thing is that if a church runs into trouble—and a lot of churches do—we have more flexibility in helping them through that than does a lending institution. Finally, and this is something that’s unique about us, when a church is paying interest during the life of the loan, that money goes back through us to the Alliance family and friends—official workers, retirees, missionaries and others.

al: If I were an investor, what might be more appealing about ADF over, say, a traditional savings account or some other investment?
The money is doing double duty; it’s working for investors, and it’s also working for the Kingdom. While they receive a competitive rate of return, our investors know the money is going into Alliance churches and other ministries. I think investors like the legacy aspect; churches that they are helping to build are going to be used as ministry centers for generations to come.

al: Despite all the economic difficulty our country is facing, ADF has remained pretty stable over the past several years.
Certainly, it’s God’s grace and goodness foremost. Also, I really hand it to our churches. The vast majority realize that those funds came from Alliance people, and they make every effort to meet their loan payments. The other thing, of course, is that we carefully manage our liquid reserves and capital.

al: ADF had another strong year and even has a surplus. I heard that you are going to do something a little unconventional with that surplus.
In ADF, we want to make sure our investors are getting a good rate of return, but we also want to help our churches save money and give them the lowest rate possible. It’s always kind of a balancing act. As I mentioned, we have quite a large amount of liquidity and capital, so we invest in the markets. This year we had a really good year. Our board of directors, for the second time in recent years, has asked how much can we afford to give back, and this year we are going to return a total of $300,000 to churches that have ADF loans.

al: That’s fantastic! When you did that back in 2007, what kind of response did you get?
A lot of churches said it came at just the right time for a need that they had.

It was great to be able to help, and we hope that this will be a blessing as well. If we didn’t have the level of earnings, reserves and strength that we felt was prudent, we wouldn’t be able to do it. And obviously we can’t do it every year. But this year we felt like everything was a go.

al: Does ADF have any expectations about how churches will use this rebate? Could they use it to pay down their principal or make an extra payment?
There are no strings attached. Paying down debt is a good thing; so is tithing to the Great Commission Fund. But a lot of our churches are struggling because of the economy, so there is a myriad of needs. They can use the money wherever they feel God leads them.

al: What excites you the most about ADF’s current and future ministry?
You know, we’re working with churches where something is going on—where God is at work. Most of the time, they want to expand or get a bigger building. Even if it’s for repairs or renovation, it’s all driven by wanting to be better at their ministry and have a facility that meets their needs. It is always fun and exciting to see how creative God is and to be able to come alongside and provide a tool that the church needs.

Certainly, we feel that it’s important to provide a stable investment for our official workers and for our laypeople around the world. We take that very seriously. I’m excited about our new relationship with the Orchard Foundation. Together, we are going to be able to do things that are good for the Kingdom, for the C&MA and for both organizations.

I’m really grateful for investors and for our churches partnering together. The folks that come to ADF to work every day have a strong sense of ministry to the people we serve.

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