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A 'Crazy' Idea with Great Results

The following story is part of Lake Institute’s story collection, The Faithful Generosity Story Shelf, which highlights congregations and other religious organizations who have sought to use their assets and resources in creative—and sometimes surprising—ways as an expression of faithful giving.

Each entry in our Story Shelf is short enough to be read and discussed during a committee meeting or other group gathering. Our hope is that these accessible vignettes will spark new questions, conversation, and imagination among clergy and laity about what might be possible with the funds, buildings, land, and other resources in their care.

Four men stand in front of church property.
Leaders of the Montrose English-speaking and Spanish-speaking churches met to discuss the former’s decision to donate a one-million-dollar property to the latter. [Photo: courtesy of Nathan Cranson, Rocky Mountain Conference]

By Starlette Thomas

One congregation speaks English, and the other speaks Spanish, but the two Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) churches share a language of faith both can understand. 

At Montrose Seventh-day Adventist Church this year, a retired pastor’s praying hands pointed him to a novel idea. What if you opened your hands and gave it away?

And by it, he meant a property worth $1 million. 

“Lord,” Nathan Cranson prayed, “what would you have us do with our school property?” He wasn’t expecting the reply. “Give it away.”

Talk about coming bearing gifts! The building is twenty thousand square feet on four and a half acres of land. Previously, it had served as the location for an Adventist school and was also being rented to another ministry. 

It wasn’t a feeling he could shake off. Cranson described it as “a strong impression that settled on him.” He wrote later about his response after discerning that the church was to give the property away, “Well, that’s a crazy idea! But the thought persisted.”

Cranson wasn’t the only one praying about a building. The Montrose Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing. The pastor, Leonardo JImenez-Chale, could see from his pulpit that the congregation had outgrown the chapel. The church’s leaders were looking for space to rent or purchase. 

Both men were aware of the trend, the increased number of Hispanic members within their tradition. More space needed to be created to welcome them.

Cranson shared the idea with the congregation, certain there would be pushback. To his surprise, there wasn’t any.

He shared the news with the Hispanic congregation and was greeted by the principal elder of the church with a hug. The squeeze seemed to release any feelings of anxiety, which were replaced with joy. A sweet relief!

Cranson described it as “what God has so beautifully orchestrated.” God’s hands had brought it all together. Praying hands had brought these two congregations together.

Pastor Cranson thought, We have just given away a million-dollar asset. He looked out at the congregation the following Sunday and noted the sweet fellowship as they shared Communion. “Rather than a divided church, we witnessed perhaps the greatest Communion attendance ever in church,” he said.

Giving the property away had somehow drawn them closer in their relationship to each other and with Jesus. With one so-called crazy idea down, Cranson remarked, “It is time we start acting on more of these ‘crazy ideas.’”

Sources

Nathan Cranson, “When God leads the way,” Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, September 1, 2022, https://www.rmcsda.org/when-god-leads-the-way.

“Local Church in the U.S. Receives $1 million dollar gift,” Adventist World, September 16, 2022, https://www.adventistworld.org/local-church-in-the-u-s-receives-a-1-million-gift.

“Montrose Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, accessed October 19, 2022, https://adventistdirectory.org/ViewEntity.aspx?EntityID=53680

DATE: July 15, 2022
TOPIC: Organizational Leadership
TYPE: Story/Case Study
SOURCE: Faithful Generosity Story Shelf
KEYWORDS: Property
AUTHOR: Starlette Thomas