Strongtower Financial, a Fresno, Calif.-based church and faith-based lender, has securitized a church mortgage bond portfolio, issuing approximately $56.3 million in notes backed by mortgage assets.The offering, Strongtower's first such securitization, includes a pool of 846 mortgage bonds backed by 28 churches in 15 states. "This securitization is a milestone for Strongtower Financial and the church finance marketplace, as it brings institutional focus to this robust and growing market," said Chester Reid, Strongtower's president and chief executive officer. Strongtower reported that it is now working on a second church mortgage bond securitization, which is likely to close in the first quarter of 2007. Strongtower has provided nearly $1.5 billion in church bond originations to date, according to the company. Moody's Investors Service has given the bonds an investment-grade rating of Baa2, Strongtower reported.

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