Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you'll make in life. For first-time and seasoned buyers alike, it can be a daunting process. LCEF is here to walk you through the steps.
Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) understands Lutheran
Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) ministries like no other lender. LCEF has served as the financial extension of the LCMS since 1978, offering funding and resources in support of the church and her workers.
LCEF offers home purchase and refinance loans to ordained and commissioned LCMS Rostered Church Workers (RCWs) on active or emeritus status. Let LCEF handle your mortgage, so you can focus on your ministry.
Chris Dehning, Principal at Trinity Lutheran School in Winfield, Kan. and first-time homebuyer
-Rev. Matt Wietfield
Concordia Theological Seminary,
Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Knowledge is power! Get started with LCEF’s quick-and-easy mortgage calculators.
There are several factors that play into calculating how much mortgage you can afford. These factors include the borrower’s income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, credit score and employment history.
All of these aspects, combined with the interest rate, should be considered when determining how much mortgage you can afford.
Do you have questions about the mortgage process or are you feeling overwhelmed? We know it can be intimidating, especially for first-time homebuyers. LCEF is here to help you.
LCEF hosted two informational webinars about our RCW mortgage program. We have curated some helpful tips from our team of experts and a realtor.
It’s important to find the right real estate agent to work with you and your family. Do your research and come up with questions to ask potential agents (describe your process, what can I expect when working with you, etc.). Connect with people at your congregation and/or school to get recommendations and reviews of local agents.
Connect with LCEF’s mortgage team to learn what you need to get pre-approved. Some of the documents you may need include: call papers, pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and possibly more. The LCEF mortgage team can walk you through the process and provide a list of the documentation you will need. It takes anywhere from 1-5 business days to get pre-approved. Start by giving us a call at 800-843-5233.
This is the fun part! Think about the wants and needs you have for your new home (a certain number of bedrooms, location, etc). Discuss the list with your real estate agent and ask them to start sending you homes that fit your criteria and/or search for available homes on websites like Zillow. Be ready to adjust your list once you start seeing what types of homes are available in your price range.
Note that this step can happen at the same time as steps 1 and 2.
Ask your agent to see the homes you’re interested in. The timing for this process varies based on the location. In some markets, you might need to make an offer the same day you view the home, and in other markets, you might have a little more time. According to research from Zillow, the average time spent home shopping is around 4 and a half months.
Your agent will help you put in an offer when you find a home that might be “the one.” Then, your agent will connect with the seller’s agent and negotiate if necessary. The seller could accept, reject or counteroffer, which would start another round of negotiations.
From your first offer to an accepted offer, be sure to stay within your budget.
Once the negotiations are complete, it’s time for you and your agent to complete the mortgage loan with LCEF. We will complete the underwriting process and approve the loan (also known as the closing process). The average time to close on a house is around 50 days. Steps 7 and 8 can be completed as you await closing.
LCEF will hire a professional to perform an appraisal to determine the home’s value. You won’t need to do anything during this process other than wait to get the results. Depending on the results of the appraisal, there might be an additional round of negotiations with the seller.
You can hire a home inspector to go through the home and determine anything that might not work properly or need repair. Typically, you have 10 days after the offer is accepted to complete the inspection.
You’ll bring your down payment and closing costs and sign a lot of paperwork! Once that is done, you will receive the keys, and you are officially a homeowner!
Use these helpful tips as you prepare to purchase or refinance your home. The LCEF team is here to help our Rostered Church Workers through the process.
Start reviewing your finances. Before applying, consider checking your credit report and correcting any errors. Debt-to-income ratios should be around 45% or less for the best loan terms.
Create a budget. A good rule of thumb is to spend 28% or less of your monthly income on your housing payment (including your principal, interest, taxes, mortgage insurance, homeowner’s insurance and any possible HOA fees).
Use our mortgage calculators to help you determine your budget. You might be approved for a higher amount based on your financial situation, but you will need to determine what you are comfortable paying for each month.
Make sure to have the following documents ready to get preapproved:
LCEF will review all of these documents and your credit report to determine if you qualify for a home loan and if so, the amount. You will receive a preapproval letter valid for 60-90 days.
You’ll want to share this letter with your real estate agent.
Your real estate agent will guide you through this process. Once you find the right home, your agent will draft your offer which will include the price, a suggested time frame (usually 30 to 90 days) and conditions of the contract.
For example, it might be contingent on financing and inspections.
LCEF is pleased to offer home purchase and refinance loans to ordained and commissioned LCMS Rostered Church Workers (RCWs) on active or emeritus status. To get started, select the Apply Now button on this page.
As soon as you have a signed purchase agreement, you’ll work with LCEF’s team to finalize the mortgage.
LCEF’s team will review all of your documents and may ask for additional information. Our team will confirm that you meet requirements, make sure your income is stable and verify that you have the funds for the closing costs and down payment.
LCEF will order an appraisal to verify the home’s value as well as complete a title search which confirms the property’s owner and makes sure it is clear of any outstanding claims or liens.
Once underwriting has been completed, LCEF will send you a closing disclosure document which summarizes the term and what you will pay at closing. You’ll want to carefully review this document and discuss any concerns with our team.
You’ll work with LCEF to schedule a closing date and time to sign all necessary paperwork.
After closing, you’ll be moving and settling into your new home. You’ll then make payments for the life of the loan. Be sure to pay on time. Being late on a mortgage can affect your credit score for the long term.
Meanwhile, work on saving for a rainy day with LCEF’s Family Emergency StewardAccount.
Before applying for a Residential Loan, please check the map below to verify that you reside in a state where this program is available. The RCW Mortgage Loan Program offers adjustable and fixed rate options and is available for the purchase or refinance of a home. Applicants must be active or emeritus status and meet specific underwriting guidelines.
* Arizona– Specific state regulations apply. Please call and speak with a licensed loan originator today for details (800) 843-5233.
* Texas– Specific state regulations apply. All cash out refinances and straight refinances in excess of 80% loan-to-value are not available.
Please call (800) 843-5233 for details!
Looking for more tips and home-buying help, information about our loans and stories about church workers and their journeys to becoming homeowners? Receive our Our First-Time Home Buyers document and learn even more about the homebuyer experience.
Get in touch with an LCEF representative about our mortgage products, services, and rates.
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Greg joined LCEF’s Grace Place Wellness in Fall of 2022. He now oversees all aspects of Grace Place Wellness Ministries, which is a part of Ministry Solutions at LCEF. Having served for 13 years as the district president of the Florida-Georgia District, he has a commitment to assisting church workers in the LCMS excel in their callings throughout their entire careers. In his role, he will work to integrate wellness into other areas of LCEF to identify, coordinate and share resources that positively impact the lives of professional church workers and ministries in the LCMS.
Walton has spent most of his life on the East Coast, having grown up in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York. He attended Concordia College, which was in Bronxville, NY, where he met his wife, Edith. He graduated with his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1987 and served 22 years as a parish pastor in Toccoa, Georgia, and Marietta, Georgia, before being elected to the office of District President for the Florida-Georgia District. In his parish years Greg was deeply involved in community ventures, served as a circuit visitor and then a district vice president.
An ardent supporter of church worker wellness and Grace Place Wellness and as district president he sponsored a number of retreats in the FLGA district, assisting and encouraging workers in their personal wellbeing. Supporting and advocating for church workers and their family has long been a passion for Greg.
As his term-limited time as district president came to an end in August 2022, Walton joined LCEF and Grace Place Wellness to replace retiring director, Darrell Zimmerman, who was instrumental in developing wellness retreats for couples, ministry staffs and congregations. Greg will pick up the mantle, try to fit into the large shoes vacated by Darrell and explore new areas of ministry for Grace Place Wellness as we look to the future.
Greg and Edith live in Woodstock, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, and are in close proximity to their two children and six grandchildren. He is excited to serve the church in this new role.
Dr. Eckrich founded Grace Place Wellness Ministries in 1999. He’s also the author of several books on wellness, ministry and Christian living.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, John attended Lutheran schools as a child, graduating from Lutheran High School South. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Columbia, Missouri. He finished his medical training at the University of Chicago as a fellow in gastroenterology and hepatology.
Dr. John served the St. Louis community for over 40 years as a practicing internist and gastroenterologist. He had the unique opportunity to care for hundreds of Lutheran church workers and their families, including seminary professors, students and many leaders at the LCMS International Center.
During his early career, John observed the effects of stress and challenges of ministry on personal and family life. He gathered other professionals to examine and develop health skills and strategies to proactively address the rising tide of church worker burnout and ill-health.
Their findings led John to found Grace Place Wellness Ministries, now having served over 10,000 church workers and families through Grace Place Wellness retreats.
His books include:
John lives in the St. Louis area with his wife, Kathy. They have three grown children and two grandchildren. Dr. John spends as much time with his grandkids as possible.
Darrell oversaw all aspects of Grace Place Wellness Ministries from the fall of 2012 until June 2023. His passion remains helping ministry workers across the entire spectrum of Christianity excel in their callings for their whole careers.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Darrell graduated with his Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1982. He served 30 years as a parish pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, and Saginaw, Michigan. He is a trained intentional interim minister in the LCMS.
He and his wife, Carol, attended the first Grace Place Wellness retreat in the fall of 2000, then began leading retreats in Grace Place Wellness’ earlier years. He also earned his Doctor of Ministry in 2006. He was instrumental in developing the Ministry Team Wellness Retreat. In December 2019, he became interim president and CEO and served until the acquisition by LCEF, when he took on the role of vice president of Ministry Solutions, director of Grace Place Wellness. After almost 11 wonderful years leading Grace Place Wellness, Darrell retired in June 2023.
Darrell and Carol live just a few short miles from their three children and four grandchildren in the St. Louis area. In retirement, he looks forward to spending time with them, woodworking and playing lots of golf. We are grateful for his contribution to Grace Place Wellness.
Coaching professional church workers in creating their sabbatical experience is one of the most rewarding things I do. My coaching training was through Valwood Certified Coaches (2002- 2008). George Bullard, Jane Creswell, and Linda Miller, along with other coaches, conducted this training. In addition to coaching pastors in planning sabbaticals, I also coach church workers who are in transition or conflict situations.
My journey in ministry is an interesting one. In college, I studied Advertising and Sales Management at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. During my summers in college, I sold Electrolux vacuum cleaners door to door, which was also an educational experience.
The influence of my campus pastor led me to consider seminary training and I graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill., in 1971. My first call was to begin a mission congregation in Fort Myers, Fla. I pastored there until 1979 and assisted in two building campaigns and self-support status for the congregation.
From 1979 to 1985, I served as senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Delray Beach, Fla., and from 1986 to 1993, I was senior pastor at Ascension Lutheran Church and School in Charlotte, N.C.
In 1993, I joined the staff of the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod as a Mission and Ministry Facilitator deployed to work with congregations in North and South Carolina. I helped direct mission partnerships and served as a conflict consultant to the District President.
Since 2002, I have continued ministry as a consultant to congregations and pastors. I participate in conflict intervention, peacemaking and coaching professional church workers in times of change and conflict. As a Staff Associate for Wheat Ridge Ministries (now We Raise Foundation), I managed its Sabbatical Resource Center, which became this website in 2018.
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