Freedom from debt
Church member Charles Williams burns his copy of the mortgage on October 15 at Coweta-First UMC
STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATE MILLER
COWETA, Okla. — First United Methodist Church of Coweta members gathered Oct. 15 with friends and statewide church leadership to celebrate the retiring of a 15-year-old mortgage.
In 2002, the church trustees signed a $250,000 note to build a family life center next to the existing church building. In the years since, the center has been used for countless church and community activities ranging from potluck meals to town movie nights. In 2016, when Pastor John Miller was appointed to the church, the trustees made the choice to prioritize repayment of the building’s remaining debt, $80,000.
“The bank was willing to work with us, to refinance almost $57,000 when the note would meet maturity at the end of this month,” Rev. Miller said in October.
“I think it’s pretty amazing that we don’t have to even consider that.”
Through donations large and small over the past year and a half, the Coweta church almost tripled the amount paid monthly on the mortgage.
Special giving opportunities in December and May raised more than $15,000 each toward retiring that debt.
At a mortgage-burning ceremony Oct. 15, Bishop Jimmy Nunn congratulated and encouraged the congregation as the people step into a new chapter of debt-free ministry. “Reducing and eliminating debt unifies relationships,” he said.
The bishop also gave a mission to the church before concluding the service. “This is a day to celebrate being debt-free, but it is also a day to remember what we really owe: love and kindness to all of our neighbors.”
First UMC was founded in 1904. Worship attendance averages 42, according to the 2017 Oklahoma Journal.
Worship begins at 10:45 a.m. every Sunday, and Bible studies meet Sundays at 9:45 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.