It was the dawn of the 20th century, 1901, when a group of our Lutheran forefathers, both clergy and laymen, came together and conceived an innovative notion – a shared financial fund that would be available to assist new mission congregations throughout Michigan for building their first worship facilities through affordable loans.

This was the beginning of Michigan’s Church Extension Fund.Through the ensuing decades, CEF helped build up God’s Kingdom with affordable loans to congregations throughout the Michigan District. At the same time, the Fund offered individual Lutherans a growing variety of savings plans and investment services. Now in their second century, no one has ever lost a single cent in their CEF investments.

Today, Church Extension Fund continues its important ministry. It supports the borrowing needs of Michigan District congregations by providing a source of affordable loans for buying, building, expanding, and equipping facilities. Affordable housing loans are also available for church workers.

From its founding more than one hundred years ago, Church Extension Fund has grown to be the District’s major source of capital funding for Missouri Synod Lutheran churches in Michigan. 

Church Extension Fund is a ministry of partnering Christians to make resources available for members and churches of the Michigan District in carrying forward the Great Commission-Mission Statement
2016 annual report

Our core mission is solid and unchanging. As always, we will build churches and schools through mortgage loans, grants and other financial incentives. But our work will not stop there.


Church Extension Fund Executive Management

Jim Saalfeld

Chief Executive Officer

Jim Saalfeld was appointed Chief Executive Officer effective December 1, 2016. Jim was a member of the CEF Board of Trustees from 2003-2015, serving as its chairman for six years. Prior to his employment with CEF, Jim was a corporate executive and attorney with 25 years of management and legal (in-house counsel and law firm) experience. Areas of expertise include business transactions, employment, real estate, securities, litigation management and risk assessment. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska (BA) and Northwestern University (JD). He is a member of Immanuel-Grand Rapids.

Email Jim at jim.saalfeld@mi-cef.org

John Bates


John has been employed by CEF since 1984 and serves as the Office Manager and Chief Financial Officer. His career with the Church Extension Fund began when he was hired as an Accountant. He is a graduate of Valparaiso University (BS) and Eastern Michigan University (MBA). John is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Email John at john.bates@mi-cef.org

Paul Wills

Vice-President, Marketing

Paul has served in the areas of promotion and marketing for CEF since 2001. Previously, Paul was employed by the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod Foundation from 1993-2001 as a Gift Planning Counselor and as a Regional Vice President. Prior to that he taught music and theology in Lutheran High Schools for twenty-two years. He is a graduate of Concordia University - Seward (BS) and Indiana University (MS). Paul is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Email Paul at paul.wills@mi-cef.org

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CEF Endowment Fund

When Church Extension Fund established its Endowment Fund it was done in response to the growing number of mission-minded investors and others who wished to demonstrate a greater role in perpetuating the ministry of Church Extension through gifts and bequests.