Let us now pray: Church mortgage delinquencies on the rise

Sounds like it might be time to pass the hat again. Many churches are having trouble paying their debts. Bloomberg recently profiled the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which has written some $3 billion worth of church mortgages over the past ten years. Unfortunately, the combination of payments that rise when rates adjust and less money to make those payments is hitting churches hard, and many of them are defaulting. Roughly 145 churches have had to declare bankruptcy because they couldn't make their mortgage payments.

Evangelical Christian's percentage of delinquencies has doubled since 2007. The company steered its clients into commercial mortgages that were similar to the deals many Americans struck on their home loans, with lower initial payments that would balloon after a period of years. Many of these institutions refinanced in order to expand or renovate their facilities. At the time, this arrangement was a cheaper way for churches to access money than holding bond sales; in addition, churches were often approved to borrow more money than they could have raised via more traditional -- and perhaps less risky -- methods.