St. Paul’s has been blessed by the stewardship of past members. Through their good planning, generosity and commitment, they were able to make bequests to the church upon their death. They understood there would be ongoing financial needs to carry out the ministries they so deeply cared about. They included St. Paul’s in their wills and estate planning. Their deep commitment to carrying out God’s ministry at St. Paul’s is inspiring and seems remarkable; but there are examples of this in the Bible. Genesis 41 describes a time early in Israel’s history when God used Joseph to cause the King of Egypt to order an unprecedented storage of grain against the coming seven years of famine. Through that endowment, the people through whom the Savior of the world was to come were kept from starvation.
St. Paul’s Vestry has been able to keep most of our bequest funds invested. The income from our bequests has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past 20 years and, frankly, is in large part the reason St. Paul’s has been able to keep the doors open! For the past five years, we have used an average of $40,000 of the income generated by our bequest funds to help pay our day-to-day expenses (utilities, pantry supplies and church cleaning). It’s unclear if and what St. Paul’s would be today if not for income from our bequests; but certainly bequests funds kept us from starvation!
Some of the bequests were substantial ($150,000 or more) and some were much smaller. Remember Jesus’ teaching at the Temple in Jerusalem about the widow’s mite? (Luke 21:1-4) ALL the bequests were made by deeply committed members, giving to the best of their ability. ALL – no matter the size, were gifts of thanksgiving BACK to God, accumulated from a lifetime of blessings. As believers, we understand that God is the owner of everything.
Just as we can do great things when we come together as a congregation, so can bequests of any size empower St. Paul’s to carry out future ministry. Smaller bequests are within reach for most of us, and they add up. Ten bequests of $1,000 add $10,000 to our investment fund. Over 20 years, at a modest investment return of 5%, this would generate $20,000 in income. Because St. Paul’s vestry is committed to preserving the core of our bequests, the original gifts remain invested and continue generating income to fund ministry.
Do you have a will or estate plan? In estate planning, we are merely arranging to transfer stewardship responsibility, hopefully in a way that would please the One who has created and who owns all things. Estate planning affects literally everything we consider “ours”. Because of that, it is the single most important act of stewardship we will ever undertake. (Estate Planning resources will soon be available at St. Paul’s.) Please prayerfully consider including St. Paul’s in your estate planning.
Angela Breeher, Sr. Warden
Rector's Corner posts written by Pastor Rebecca.