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Rochester church pays off debt early, burns mortgage

Redeemer mortgage
Having signed the loan just 10 years ago, Scott Brandt, left, and Dave Dubbels were happy to ceremoniously burn the mortgage at Redeemer Lutheran Church after services Sunday morning.Looking on is the Rev. Jim Heining.

In 2004, the congregation at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Rochester celebrated a massive remodeling of their church. On Sunday, they celebrated again. This time, for paying off the debt.

In honor of the retirement of the $1.55 million loan, the mortgage was set on fire. Dave Dubbels and Scott Brandt, who signed the mortgage on April 23, 2004, did the honors. The document turned to ashes in a wheelbarrow set on a patio built with funds from the loan.

The church took out a 20-year loan to expand and remodel the chapel and narthex, create a new North Fellowship Hall, install a sprinkler system and remodel the restrooms and South Fellowship Hall. The church also purchased two adjoining houses, tore them down and expanded the parking lot. The project was financed through the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. The mortgage payments totaled $120,000 a year. By paying off the loan early, the church saved more than $450,000.

"We're kind of stunned ourselves," said Ginger Lagergren, who has been a member of Redeemer for 14 years. "It's amazing that we pulled it off and did it during a recession. It's just the legacy of the people from the beginning. For some reason to this church, giving back is really important. You see so much of it here."

The Rev. James Heining said there a lot of people to thank for paying off the mortgage early.


"We have to thank God because He is working through our people," Heining said. "The people of this congregation are the heart and soul of this church. I remember 10 years ago when as a congregation we talked about paying this mortgage off early. It was important, and they did that."

Heining said the church has no plans on taking out another mortgage, but there was a meeting on Sunday to decide what to do with the $120,000 previously used for the annual mortgage payment. The church won't do any building, but instead focus on outreach and find ways to spread the church's mission.

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