In the early 1950s, Rev. R. L. Rex, the father of Lonnie, was sent to Houston, Texas to start a new church. After six weeks of services under a tent, many people had been saved and it was decided that a church needed to be built for the new congregation. A suitable lot was found for the new building but there remained one big problem, no money.
The church needed $8,000 and there was not a bank in town willing to loan them that much money. That was when Rev Rex came up with the vision to start a church extension fund where people could invest money, receive a good rate of interest, and then their money could be used to loan to churches for buildings.
Rev Rex approached Lonnie all excited about the idea since it had finally been approved at the last General Conference. He told Lonnie that he wanted him to be the first investor. Lonnie had a young family, plenty of bills and not much money. Rev. Rex insisted on him being the first investor and asked, “how much can you come up with to buy the first saving bond?" Lonnie, rather fearful, said“one hundred dollars." That was a lot of money back then.
His father then told him that he was on his way to talk to another investor and wanted to be able to tell him that he already had people investing in the Fund.
That first savings bond is now part of the archives of the IPHC in Oklahoma City. From that humble start, the Fund has grown to represent assets of $60 million with over 800 churches having been financed through the years. The year 2018 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Fund.