Lease-to-own program enables home ownership

Posted: 10/13/06

Lease-to-own program enables home ownership

By Barbara Bedrick

Texas Baptist Communications

DALLAS—By Christmas, some Texas families may celebrate the season by making plans to move into a new home, thanks to an innovative lease-to-own program involving the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

The partnership between the BGCT and the Community Empower home ownership counseling network—along with CitiMortgage and Ebby Halliday Realtors—provides an 18-month new-home lease to potential homebuyers.

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“The bottom line here is that we’re not trying to just build new homes; we’re trying to help churches reach more people for Christ,” explained Terry Austin, BGCT stewardship director. “However, we realize you can’t be financially stable until you own your own home.”

The BGCT initially plans to sponsor 12 “Forget the Rent” workshops at Baptist churches in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and San Antonio beginning Oct. 18.

Workshop leaders will provide a comprehensive credit improvement analysis for each participant, and they will explain how to improve credit scores. A month-long series of classes follows. The BGCT is providing teachers to lead classes in credit and money management skills that will be the first step toward home ownership.

“We have set a goal to have least 50 families on their way to a new home by year’s end,” Austin said. “We’re still searching for more teachers, which will expedite this program’s success.”

Some church leaders say they believe this ministry meshes with their goals for community outreach and transformation.

“What a great opportunity for our state convention to partner with local churches to reach their communities,” said Jerry Spivey, minister of education and administration at Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas.

“As soon as the word got out that Cliff Temple was offering this home ownership seminar, in English and Spanish, our phones started ringing.”

Another congregation embracing the home ownership ministry is South Oaks Baptist Church in Arlington because it fits the congregation’s missional strategy to offer tools and programs beneficial to people in their community.

“We had already been working on this strategy, including developing weekday classes on improving parent skills, finance workshops for the home, classes on coping with grief, and more when we were approached by Terry Austin,” said Keith Lowry, minister of outreach and evangelism.

“It was an easy decision to say yes. Anything we can do to invite our neighbors into our building, giving us an opportunity to become better friends and neighbors—we’re for it. We’re in. We can’t wait to meet our new friends.”

The lease-to-own seminars already scheduled are at six North Texas locations. For more information, contact South Oaks Baptist Church in Arlington at www.south or (817) 478-8284, Trinity Hills Baptist Church in Benbrook at www.trinity or (817) 249-0704, Spring Hill Road Baptist Church in Aubrey at or (940) 365-3521, High Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Hill at or (972) 293-0155, Irving Baptist Fellowship Church in Irving at (972) 313-7742 and Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas at or (214) 942-8601.

For information about seminars in San Antonio, contact Northeast Baptist Church at or (210) 824-7235, Redeeming Grace Baptist Church at or (210) 661-5024 or South San Filadelfia Baptist Church at (210) 225-7537.

Online registration is available at, or register by calling the BGCT Service Center at (888) 244-9400.

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