Zion United Methodist Church, York, Pennsylvania

by | October 28, 2016

Twenty years ago, Zion United Methodist Church in York, PA began an expansion and renovation project that continued for nearly eight years.  The new and improved facilities provided many exciting opportunities for ministry.  The problem?  Two decades after dedicating the new space, the church still found itself with significant debt from the project and struggling to meet its financial obligations.  The problem ran deeper than nickels and dimes: anger and resentment about how money had been handled during the project—or mishandled, as some said—began to grow and trust in leadership was at an all-time low.

When Rev. Bruce Fensterbush was appointed to Zion Church, he realized the burden the large debt placed on the congregation and worked with church leaders to hire Horizons to conduct a feasibility study to explore Zion’s options.  The study showed that many members weren’t inclined to give the church more money when, in their view, it handled it so poorly in the past.

But Zion’s Leadership Team decided to forge ahead. Horizons used the information learned in the feasibility study to design a spiritually focused campaign process that was able to help the church overcome its anger and resentment and get to a place of hope.

The result – Zion exceeded the original estimates of gifts by more than $280,000 and received significantly increased giving to the annual ministry budget.  New funds came quickly as well.  Only halfway through the 36-month collection period for the capital commitments, Zion had already received 87% of the total!

Today, all annual financial obligations are now paid in full, and increased giving has allowed the church’s annual budget to cover interest payments on the debt—allowing all funds given during the campaign to be used to pay down principal. Most importantly, the church is on the path to healing, discovering a new level of energy and is looking to the future with a rediscovered zeal for ministry.


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