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Archive for Sunday, November 5, 2000

Church’s offering is the initial public kind

November 5, 2000

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— The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection is breaking new ground for religious organizations, through a blend of business and faith.

It's thought to be the fastest-growing Methodist church in the nation, and it wants the ability to expand and have a say in developments around church property.

"I have to say I've been praying to the mighty SEC for about two months now."

lawyer Art Fillmore

So it's going where perhaps no church has gone before: the marketplace. The Leawood church got the go-ahead from securities regulators Friday to proceed with an initial public offering.

The IPO seeks to raise $16 million for the acquisition and redevelopment of 47 acres west of the church.

"I'm not sure if it was an act of God, but it's probably not far from it," said lawyer Art Fillmore, a church member who donated his time to help put the offering together. "We hope to begin selling next week."

The church is going through COR Development LLC, a for-profit company, and plans to build retail and office space on two-thirds of the land. Profits from rents and the eventual sale of the buildings would go to COR investors which are expected to be mainly church members, though anyone can buy shares.

The remaining 15 acres will be donated by COR Development to the church. That will allow the church to expand while generating charitable tax deductions for investors.

COR hopes to sell 1.6 million common and preferred units, similar to common and preferred shares of stock, for $10 apiece.

The church signed a contract to buy the land, now a bean field, for $11.75 million, or $250,000 per acre, from a real estate company headed by Harlan Laner.

The contract was assigned to COR, which will use most of the proceeds to make the purchase and the rest to develop the property.

The church, begun only a decade ago by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, has 8,000 members and foresees further growth.

Two years ago, the church dedicated a 1,700-seat sanctuary. It hopes to break ground in 2002 for a sanctuary seating from 5,000 to 7,000 persons.

"We're walking a fine line between neutral third-party investors and achieving the charitable goals of the church," Fillmore said.

"It has to stand on its own merits as a commercial project. But I have to say I've been praying to the mighty SEC for about two months now."

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