The Early Years
Rives, Leavell & Co. (RLC) traces its roots back to 1960 and a company
named Church Finance, Inc. Church Finance was a Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC) registered broker-dealer in Jackson, Mississippi. The Company was founded
by a group of Christian laymen and led by its President, W. B. Rives. Church
Finance specialized in bond financing and was formed to provide funds to evangelical
churches in Mississippi and the surrounding states.
In the 1960s, few churches and faith-based organizations had access to
credit as they do today. Church Finance and a sister company, Church
Building & Savings
Association, a state chartered Savings & Loan, were early leaders in the
church financing arena. These two companies combined the permanent financing
options of a bond issue with the short term benefits of a term loan successfully
throughout the Deep South.
A byproduct of the bond financing packages that Church Finance provided
to churches was the investment opportunities provided by the bonds themselves.
Since the early 1960s, church members and friends have invested their
personal funds in the first mortgage bonds issued by churches throughout
In 1976, due to a savings and loan failure, the Mississippi State Legislature
required all State chartered Savings and Loans to get Federal insurance.
Since the Federal government does not insure a portfolio consisting entirely
of church loans, the Board of Church Buildings & Savings shareholders voted to sell
out rather than become a traditional savings & loan.
Growth and Challenge
Church Finance continued its successful work until 1980 when the financing
markets were roiled by an increase of the prime interest rate to 21.5%.
It was this turbulent period of time that led to the demise of the Savings
and Loan industry, as it was merged and came under the control of the
FDIC bank regulators. With a multi-million dollar church bond inventory
of 9% bonds tied to a bank loan floating at prime, Church Finance also
experienced a negative spread on its portfolio during this very difficult
time. This time was also burdensome on the individual churches. Many
had adjustable rate loans and were battered by interest rate and monthly
payment increases. These rate increases put a great deal of stress on
all borrowers, whether individual, business, or church.
Left undercapitalized after this difficult period, in 1981 the shareholders
of Church Finance voted to sell to a regional broker-dealer that specialized
in municipal bonds. This marriage of incompatible values was difficult
from the start and ended shortly thereafter when W. B. Rives and Roland
Leavell left the Company and acquired Nationwide Bond Inc. of Birmingham,
AL. Nationwide Bond was a broker-dealer incorporated in 1960 to serve
the same church market as Church Finance, Inc. Rives and Leavell subsequently
changed the name of Nationwide Bond to Rives Leavell & Co. (RLC) and continued their uninterrupted service to
The following years were characterized by a number of industry firsts
for Rives, Leavell & Co.
- RLC was a pioneer in developing presentation materials to assist
a church in offering bonds to their membership and the local community. Even
today, RLC’s local placement program is still regarded as the
best in the industry.
- In September 1990, RLC directed the first 20-year financing package
for the Burke Presbyterian Church in Burke, VA. Prior to this time
the industry standard was a 15-year loan amortization that restricted
the cash flow of the church.
- In August 2000, RLC became the first church bond broker-dealer to
post bond inventory on a website. This allowed a retail client to issue
an indication of interest on a bond issue to the firm unrestricted
by the limits of normal business hours.
- In December 2001, RLC directed the first 25-year financing package
for the Bascomb United Methodist Church in Woodstock, GA. This loan
package further expanded the church’s ability to cash flow a
- 2003 was the most successful year in the company's history with a
total of $95,867,000 of church loans closed.
- In January of 2007, RLC directed its first 30-year financing package
for the Kellogg Creek Church of Christ in Acworth, Georgia.
A Step Back in Time
In July 2000, RLC exchanged its stock for an interest in One Capital
Source. One Capital Source, a newly-formed management company, became
the parent company of both Rives, Leavell & Co. and One Capital
One Capital Advisors served as manager of Foundation Capital Resources
(FCR), a real estate investment trust (REIT) and was formed to provide
participation loans and liquidity to church loan funds and broker-dealers
throughout the USA.
From its inception, Foundation Capital Resources grew to over $700
million in assets. These assets were comprised almost entirely of church
loans and loan participations with various denominational loan funds.
FCR participated with RLC, as it did with other strategic partners, in
providing short-term bridge and land acquisition loans to RLC church
clients. For RLC, this new relationship reunited the combination of bond
financing and term loans, which was highly successful for Church Finance
Inc. and Church Building & Savings in the 1960s.
With participation from FCR, RLC continued to assist churches with financing
across the continental United States. The firm was recognized
for its commitment to technology that reduced the cost of the financing
package to the church and service delivery to its retail investors.
In June of 2004 it was necessary for the business interests of Rives, Leavell & Co.
and One Capital Advisors to be separated. Rives, Leavell & Co. is again a
separate and distinct operating entity and the managing principal, Roland Leavell,
is the sole shareholder.
The 46 year low in market rates that culminated in the Spring of 2004
contributed to Rives, Leavell & Co.’s most successful operating year in history.
As of June 30, 2011, RLC and affiliates have directed over 1,600 bond issues comprising
approximately $1,000,000,000 in capital projects. Of that total, $270 million of these financing
projects are still outstanding.
By any method of evaluation, Rives, Leavell & Co. continues to be a recognized
leader in the church financing marketplace. As a church lender totally focused
on the needs of this select market, RLC is optimistic regarding the future of
its business and the service it provides to churches and individual investors.