Rev. Dr. Rodrigo Cruz was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, where he practiced criminal law for several years before accepting God’s call into full-time ministry. After he and his family moved to the United States, he received a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary.
In 2016, Dr. Cruz launched The Nett, a multiethnic church in Gwinnett County. In July 2020, he was appointed to serve as the North Georgia Conference Central East District Superintendent while remaining the founding and lead pastor of The Nett, which now has multiple campuses. Two years later, he began his three-year term as a member of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation Board of Trustees.
Dr. Cruz took time out of his busy schedule to share insights into the district’s partnership with the Foundation.
Q: Several churches in the Central East District have chosen the Foundation as their lending partner. How would you describe the partnership?
Dr. Cruz: It is a huge blessing for all the parties involved speaking as the district superintendent and on behalf of the local churches. Any time churches have to handle financial commitments and contracts, it is an absolute pleasure knowing that the Foundation holds the same values and interests of community well-being, the kingdom of God, and the healthiness of the churches.
Q: What are the advantages of partnering with the Foundation versus a commercial lender?
Dr. Cruz: One is that we share the same values, and having a partner who will do all they can within their legal and financial wisdom to enable the church to do what we can to make disciples is just a wonderful partnership. We have the same goal in mind. It reminds me of the story in the Bible of Jesus feeding 5,000 with loaves of bread and fish. Everybody brings a little to the table to create a meal for the community. When the local church and the Foundation come together, we can provide our product to the community, which is transformation.
Q: How have the churches benefited financially from this partnership?
Dr. Cruz: Certainly, the rates are as competitive, if not better, than the current market. Also, the fact that the money stays within the United Methodist movement provides great peace of mind knowing we are not making a CEO of a bank richer. Through investments in the Foundation’s Certificate Program, we are putting the money back into churches, communities, and other United Methodist organizations for kingdom work. It’s a win-win.
Q: What has your experience been like interacting with the Foundation?
Dr. Cruz: It is as convenient as it can be. I never have to speak with a machine. I get people, and I love that because you can certainly accomplish more when having conversations with individuals you know have the same values but are reachable. And it is also very professional. The Foundation responds to phone calls, emails, and text messages with better standards than corporate America.
Q: How does the Foundation help the church fulfill its mission?
Dr. Cruz: The Foundation helps churches think outside of the box. In my experience, the brainstorming of ideas and the sharing of the product it’s not what benefits the Foundation the most but what enables the local church to do what local churches are called to do, which is transforming the world. The Foundation puts our mission as the priority, which is different from other financial institutions where profit is a priority.