In an op-ed about planned giving in the Winston-Salem Journal last winter, there was a statistic that I found interesting. The author (Mike Wells) said that roughly 70% of Americans give to charities of some kind during their lifetime, but less than 6% give to charities at their death. He went on to say that “perhaps all of us should give more thought to providing financial support beyond our lives for those efforts or organizations that advance the values and principles which we hold dear”. [Wells, M. (2014, December 6). Remember Charities in your Estate Planning. The Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved from http://www.journalnow.com.]
Of course, I agree with the author of this piece, and reading it again this week reminded me of how excited and happy I am that at Home Church we have begun this year a more intentional, defined, and ongoing planned giving stewardship ministry in our congregation, called “Forever Home – Stewarding God’s Gifts in Perpetuity.” In March, all of our member homes received a brochure about Forever Home, as well as a card to use if you or someone in your family wants to consider a designated gift of any type that comes to Home Church from your assets or your estate. The card is returned to the Moravian Ministries Foundation that has worked with us to develop Forever Home, and that serves our broader Moravian Church in America with planned giving services that are free, confidential and without obligation.
I believe every congregation should have an intentional planned giving stewardship ministry – not because it advances values and principles we hold dear, but because it invites us, even calls us, to continue giving our resources for the ministry of the Lord we hold dear, through the life and mission of this particular congregation that we hold dear! We believe deeply in this church that whatever resources we may have or accumulate are gifts of God’s grace and goodness, and, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to serve God through them and to help build up the Kingdom of God with them now and even beyond our lives. To me this call is inspiring, liberating, and rewarding.
Last year Elizabeth and I updated our wills and we made sure to include Home Church and its ministry in our estate. We did that with joy and with purpose. How much that will ultimately be, we don’t know. But that’s not the point. The point is to give what we can and let God take care of the rest. Just like in our annual stewardship ministries, every gift is important.
In the coming months, and years for that matter, the Forever Home emphasis will provide us with both educational information and opportunities to learn more about planned giving stewardship, as well as avenues to respond as we feel so led and called by God to give of our resources beyond our lifetimes. Personally as Pastor, I hope that we will respond, because I know how much God wants our life with him to grow and to help serve this world into which we are sent on behalf of Jesus Christ. We have been in mission and ministry for Christ here in this place for over 240 years. With our open and generous hearts, and always with the promise of God’s good gifts to us, I pray that together we’ll help Home Church be in ministry for at least another 240 years. I think we will, and that thought gives me reassurance and the desire to do all I can to help. I hope and pray that all of us feel the same way! May God bless our generosity and our efforts of ministry through Forever Home.
Rev. Richard Sides, Pastor, Home Moravian Church