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Debt-free Parkway donates mortgage payment to area ministries

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
June 6, 2014 at 1:06 a.m.

The Rev. Mike Hurt, pastor of Parkway Church, announced to the congregation that it has paid off the mortgage to the 12,000-square-foot children's building, and the church is  donating the $17,000 mortgage payment  to area ministries.

The announcement came three weeks ago - "a milestone moment," the Rev. Mike Hurt described it that morning.

And as he faced the Parkway congregation, a packed and captivated audience sitting quietly in their seats, Hurt announced the church paid off the last and final $17,000 payment of its $1.3 million mortgage with Prosperity Bank.

Holding a pair of oversized "debt-free" scissors used in the church's Dave Ramsey financial class to cut credit cards, Hurt cut the mortgage in several pieces.

It was official - they were debt-free.

They could finally - in unison - let out a Ramsey financial peace "debt-free scream."

Counting down 3-2-1, Hurt led the audience in a high-volume, we're debt-free cheer.

And cheer they did followed by Hurt's equally high-pitched and energetic yell, "Freedom."

"We paid off the original building two years ago," Hurt said about the other side of the building, built in 1998 for $2.4 million. "All that remained was paying off the children's building."

But Hurt's message wasn't only that they paid off the final bank note for the 15,000-square-foot youth building erected in 2002. He was excited to announce the $17,000 mortgage earmarked each month for Prosperity Bank would now be free to disperse to the community.

"The idea came up back in the fall. We thought about how we could spend the money, and we said, 'Let's model the generosity of this church and see about meeting some needs,'" Hurt said. "We weren't going to miss it. We'd already been living without it."

So Parkway's staff convened and discussed how they would best use the money. They decided because the church already has funds budgeted for economically disadvantaged individuals and families, a better use of the $17,000 would be to give it area ministries in need.

They decided they could invest and support new and startup ministries.

"We're not doing this to have our photos taken and hold up big checks in photos," Hurt said. "We want to be irrationally generous. We want to have a reputation as the generous church because if we're going to introduce people to God they need to know the church is generous."

Many of the recipients of the church's $17,000 has yet to be decided, but Hurt said the Rev. Glen Dry's Sportsman's Church is on the list.

"Mike sent me a message one day asking how things were going. I told him things were going well, but we were in need of a few chairs," Dry said. "It was just the timing of the message. It wasn't planned."

Dry said he was honored to be considered for the generous donation from Parkway, which includes about $1,000 to purchase 30 new chairs.

"We've ordered them and we now have enough to seat the majority," Dry said.

Both Dry and Hurt agree that churches do not, or rather should not, exist in a vacuum. They exist to benefit whole communities and to make the others preaching the same message stronger, so it can serve the community.

"That's my intention, to pay it forward," Dry said. "I just think it's awesome that we have people in Victoria who can think big. They're willing to take risks, and they know God is going to provide."

Hurt said after the first $17,000 payment is distributed, remaining funds will be saved to help pay for a new building for their satellite campus in Port Lavaca.

"We're debt-free, but we'll be looking for more property soon," Hurt said.



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