Many of you sent questions in response to our 2016 Annual Appeal. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions and their answers. Is it reasonable to maintain the BA in its current location? In 2008, and again recently, the BA has investigated the feasibility of selling the buildings and land at the […]
Many of you sent questions in response to our 2016 Annual Appeal. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.
Is it reasonable to maintain the BA in its current location?
In 2008, and again recently, the BA has investigated the feasibility of selling the buildings and land at the current location in Chestnut Hill and building elsewhere. Each time the answer has been that such a step would pay off the loan, but due to land and building costs it would not yield a significant enough endowment for the BA to make this major step prudent.
The current property and buildings are serving the BA’s programs and services well. The Original Building includes enough rooms to accommodate the significant growth we have seen and continue to see in The Residences at 910 residential program. We are also able to accommodate subsidized housing for Christian Science nurses and others working at the BA (an important need in a city with such a high cost of housing). In addition, every year the BA hosts approximately 20 Christian Science association meetings and other Christian Science organization meetings and conferences. Many of these attendees also stay overnight at the BA in our Rest & Study accommodations.
What about selling off portions of the BA’s property?
Our research has also revealed that selling off multiple parcels of the BA’s 24 acres would significantly devalue the property. The value of the property is significantly impacted not only by its location but the size of the property itself.
However, we are currently exploring the feasibility of selling one parcel of land (approximately 3 acres) that borders Route 9 and includes the Carriage House. The proceeds would be used to toward a $25 million campaign to pay off our loan, endow the training, and capital improvements.
What was the amount of the original loan and why was it needed?
The original loan was for $15 million.
The majority of the loan ($11.2 million) was for building infrastructure—the largest expense was the construction of the new Christian Science Nursing Building. This was undertaken due to a change in The Mother Church’s accreditation standards, which required residential and Christian Science nursing programs be located in separate buildings. The Christian Science Nursing Building was completed in 2002, but never fully paid for. The balance of the loan ($3.8 million) was for program support for Christian Science nurses training (2005-2008) and patient benevolence assistance (2005-2007). In 2015 we renegotiated our loan resulting in a much lower interest rate and more favorable loan terms.
What is the current amount of the loan and interest rate?
The balance of the loan is now $10,100,000. Our interest rate is a fixed 10-year rate of 4.25%.
How was the BA started, and what was its connection with The Mother Church?
In the early 1900s, a time when Christian Science was growing rapidly, Mary Baker Eddy spoke of the need for Christian Science nursing and the need for an institution to care for the sick. She consulted with Mary Beecher Longyear, but decided the founding of the institution properly belonged to the Christian Science Board of Directors. The Board of Directors adopted a By-law proposed by Mrs. Eddy for the establishment of the institution, but subsequently repealed it at Mrs. Eddy’s suggestion, when it became apparent to the Board that the challenges in setting up the institution were too great at the time.
John Munro & Mary Beecher Longyear, photo courtesy Longyear Museum
In 1916, the Christian Science Board of Directors responded to Mrs. Eddy’s request by announcing the establishment of the Christian Science Benevolent Association. The Christian Science Field responded with enthusiasm to the announcement. Mrs. Longyear donated the land, and individuals, branch churches, and societies worldwide contributed the funds for its construction.
The Benevolent Association was a Department of the Mother church until 1981 when the Christian Science Board of Directors transferred the ownership, operation, and financial responsibility of the BA to an independent trusteeship, with its new name Chestnut Hill Benevolent Association. One of the many challenges facing the new trustees was to address the severe financial deficits facing the organization.
In 1991, The Mother Church released responsibility for the oversight, curriculum, and funding of all Christian Science nurses training. This responsibility was transferred to the Field.
For more background on the establishment of the BA, click here on the following articles:
Editorial: “The Christian Science Benevolent Association” Christian Science Sentinel, October 7, 1919
“Looking Forward” Christian Science Sentinel, December 2, 1916
“A Progressive Step” By Adam Dickey, Christian Science Sentinel, December 16, 1916
What is the BA’s budget?
Our budget in 2016 was $9.2 million, which was considered a lean budget for the BA. In past years our budget has been closer to $10 million. Our expenses have exceeded our income in recent years. In order to meet all the covenants of our current loan, we needed to reduce our 2017 budget by $2 million. The budget for 2017 is $7.2 million.
Has the BA’s budget ever been balanced?
Another way of phrasing this is: “Have the revenues of the BA’s services ever completely covered its expenses?” While the BA was a department of The Mother Church (prior to 1981), we don’t know. However, since the BA has been a separate trusteeship, we can find no evidence that the revenues have covered expenses.
One of the reasons for this imbalance is the cost of Christian Science nurses training of $1 million per year. Tuition and fees cover approximately $200,000 of these costs. We raise another $250,000-$300,000 each year in donations for Christian Science nurses training. This leaves unfunded costs for training of $500,000 a year. The BA underwrites a majority of the costs for training their own Christian Science nurses as well as those coming to the BA for training from other facilities and visiting services. The majority of the Christian Science nurses the BA trains work for facilities in other areas of the country and world. There is a great need for Christian Science nurses throughout our movement. Training more Christian Science nurses is one way to meet this need.
Does the BA have reserves?
The BA has no cash reserves. A few years ago Medicare was paying the BA’s Training School a pass-through cost of $400,000 a year to offset the costs of Christian Science nurses training. In 2008 Medicare changed its regulations regarding pass-through costs for training, and made their decision retroactive for three years. The BA had to pay back three years’ worth of this payment, which totaled $1.2 million and depleted our cash reserves. We have been working to rebuild cash reserves since that time. Funding for Christian Science nursing care by Medicare remains the same.
What cuts were made in the 2017 budget?
We cut everything that did not affect the quality and high standard of our Christian Science nursing services and training. We unfortunately also had to make salary reductions for employees for 2017. When our finances improve this will be the first thing reinstated. Our plan is to reinstate salaries by 2018. We are blessed with loyal managers and employees whose hearts are in sync with our mission and who work tirelessly.
What is the scope of the BA’s current needs?
Our budget goal for 2017 is to raise $2.2 million in contributions for general operating expenses and our Training School.
Our primary focus is a capital campaign to raise $25 million to use for the following:
- $12 million towards an endowment for the BA’s Christian Science Nurses Training School. The interest from this endowment will cover the training costs not currently covered by tuition, fees, and donations to our Training School (approximately $500,000 annually)
- $3 million for capital projects and to replenish our cash reserves.
- $10 million to pay off the loan.
What additional steps do you anticipate for the future?
Future steps would include completely endowing the BA’s Training School to $20 million. This is an important step for the BA and its financial structure, but also important for the movement. A majority of Christian Science nurses trained at the BA are from other facilities and visiting services. This endowment will help answer the great need for more Christian Science nurses throughout the Field. It is a worthy and crucial need to continue to support the healing ministry of Christian Science nursing.
At the heart of all our prayers and actions is our desire to serve our Leader’s intention for establishing and maintaining this institution and to fulfill our mission “to provide a healing refuge and services that minister to the needs of mankind with Christian Science nursing.” There continues to be a great need for the Benevolent Association, and we are grateful to witness many healings — proving the efficacy of Christian Science. Please know that we are not giving up. We are standing firm, resolute that the legacy entrusted to us by Mrs. Eddy is available for current and future generations.
If you have any additional questions, we encourage you to contact Janiva Toler at 1-800-662-9937 ext 2124 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to view the 2016 BA’s Annual Appeal letter