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

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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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Michigan District Church Extension Fund?

The Michigan District Church Extension Fund is a ministry which facilitates the partnership between investors and Michigan District congregations in expanding the kingdom. It is a savings fund for investors and a loan fund from which congregations in the Michigan District can borrow for property and/or facilities These funds are also used for the purchase of new mission sites.

Who Can Make an Investment in the Michigan Church Extension Fund?

The offer and sale of notes is limited to states where authorized to do so. Refer to our current Offering Circular to determine who can become an investor.

How does CEF use my money?

Invested dollars are used first to fund mortgages which support the expansion of LCMS churches and other ministries throughout the Michigan District.  Remaining cash reserves are invested primarily in Government Agencies securities, CDs, notes and highly rated Corporate Bonds.

How often are investment interest rates set?

Investment interest rates are set monthly based on regional and national rates published by the Bank Rate Monitor™. You can call our 24/7 Interest Rate Line at 800-232-7313 for current rates.

Will the interest rate go up if I increase the principal amount invested?

Interest rates on Church Extension Fund Term Notes are determined by the time period of the investment, not on the dollar amount invested.  CEF does offer investment product with rates that are tiered based on dollar amounts such as the Dedicated Savings Accounts and ExtensionPlus, a money market-like account

What is the difference between Lutheran Church Extension Fund and the Michigan District Extension Fund?

The Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) is headquartered in St Louis, Missouri and is Synod’s Church Extension Fund.  The Michigan Church Extension Fund (CEF) is the main source of Capital Funding for the Michigan District since 1901 and is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

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.