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Mennonite Publishing Network repays short-term $2.3 million loan


February 16, 2004
Mennonite Publishing Network

Waterloo, Ontario and Scottdale, Pennsylvania—At the end of January, Mennonite Publishing Network completed its Barn Raising Campaign after paying off $1.3 million of a $2.3 short-term million loan. The remaining $1 million is to be amortized over eight years.

The Barn Raising Campaign, launched in the spring of 2002, was part of a concerted effort by MPN to halt rising debt and to transform the publishing ministry. Along with major downsizing and re-structuring, MPN obtained a short-term $2.3 million loan from an anonymous donor in order to pay back holders of unregistered debenture notes. The due date for the loan was originally set for August 31, 2003 and then extended to January 31, 2004.

Over nearly two years of the campaign, MPN paid $1,422,500 toward this loan ($1.3 million principal plus interest)—63% ($897,140) from donations from both the U.S. and Canada, and 37% ($525,360) from operations.

“We’re grateful for the generosity and support of so many people,” commented Ron Rempel, who began as MPN executive director in August 2003. “The donations toward debt reduction are just one sign of the church’s re-embrace of publishing as an essential ministry.”

For the remaining $1 million, MPN obtained a loan from the Church Investment Loan Fund, administered by Eastern Mennonite Missions in Salunga, Pa. The fund issues notes to investors and uses the proceeds to provide below-market loans to church-related agencies.

Norman Shenk, administrator of the Church Investment Loan Fund, said that EMM congratulates MPN for the progress made in fundraising and for the turn around which enabled debt reduction from operations. “This assures EMM,” noted Shenk, “that timely payments can be made from operating revenues and from the continued flow of designated contributions.”

Ron Sawatsky, MPN Board chair, commented, “While we are enormously grateful for the generous contributions from our constituency in Canada and the United States, we recognize that the publishing network will require ongoing financial support from the church. We must still pay back the remaining portion (about $3.7 million) of the original debt of $5 million. We plan to do this over the next eight to ten years using a combination of funds from MPN operations and annual contributions.”

MPN’s goal is to raise about $300,000 in annual contributions from its constituency. It is consulting with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA to develop an ongoing fundraising program to succeed the Barn Raising Campaign.

A portion of contributions will be used for new projects, such as the development costs for a new Sunday School curriculum to be released in 2006. Contributions will also be used, along with operations revenue, to make payments of principal and interest not only on the $1 million EMM loan, but also on an additional $2.7 million of debt, most of this in loans from Mennonite Church USA and Mennonite Church Canada.

For more information, contact: Ron Rempel, executive director, 519-888-7512

Note: The amounts cited in this press release are in U.S. dollars.