Most of our work involves helping faithful Moravians make their plans for remembering the Church and its ministries in their estate plans. It is rewarding and fun work, but one of the downsides is often the giver never gets to see or watch his or her generosity come alive.
Every year when I sign the checks that go out to ministries remembered by those who have entered into the immediate presence, I pause, reflect, and pray for each of my now passed friends. We are “kinda” like the intermediary between the dead and living; we play a role in keeping the memories of these generous Moravians alive. On a personal level, it is a special and humbling role.
This week, however, something very special occurred, which we helped bring about. A donor who created a fund, and who has made generous gifts while living, was able to meet those who are benefiting from his gifts; they, in turn, were able to meet him, share their life-changing stories which resulted from his generosity, and express their gratitude.
Let me begin by talking about the donor and the fund he created. Mr. Herbert Spaugh is in his mid 80's and still works. He founded and still owns a boutique financial planning firm in Charlotte. The firm focuses on helping physicians and their families plan their financial future during their work and retirement years. Herb, as he prefers to be called, attended Davidson College, became an Air Force pilot, earned his MBA from Harvard, attended Harvard Law School, served on the Charlotte City Council during the time Harvey Gantt was the first African-American Mayor of Charlotte, etc. He is a founding member of New Beginnings Moravian Church in Huntersville; however, if you were to ask him what he is most proud of, Herb would say: “I am most proud of being the son of Moravian Bishop Herbert Spaugh”, or, as Herb always calls him, “Daddy.”
Herb often says, “Daddy was the finest man and Christian I ever met or knew.” He shared, “He was patient with me during my youth and college years and always loved me. He not only taught me about my faith; he lived it. Daddy believed being a Christian and Moravian was a call to action and to serve.”
Bishop Spaugh founded Little Church on the Lane, the first Moravian Church in Charlotte, and wrote a weekly column for the Charlotte newspaper. He served on the School Committee and led the peaceful integration of the Charlotte schools. He was involved in civic and social affairs too numerous to list. While he was pastor, Little Church grew into a vibrant congregation. Two books have been written about him, including one that contains many of his weekly columns and the other has a forward written by Billy Graham. A public school and street in Charlotte are also named in his honor, and the list goes on. Late Pastor Doug Caldwell, formerly of Central Moravian Church and a son of Little Church, called Bishop Spaugh his role model for pastoral ministry.
Bishop Spaugh walked the talk throughout his life, and his son loves and greatly admires him. Therefore, Herb created a fund in his father’s honor and memory. Herb was very clear: “This has nothing to do with me, but is all about Daddy!”
The Fund will serve a number of purposes, but the one Herb wanted to focus on while he is alive is helping Southern Province seminarians avoid taking on debt to pay for attending seminary. Currently seminarians who attend Moravian Theological Seminary have their academic portion paid for by the Southern Province. If they attend another institution, they many receive a modest stipend. This means each seminarian must come up with the money to pay for books, housing, meals, and other incidentals associated with attending graduate school. While some direct aid from the seminaries may be provided, too often the seminarian and his/her family must take out school loans. And, as we know, the salaries for pastors are not “robust,” to say the least, but the debt load can be.
Knowing this and remembering his days as a preacher’s kid (“PK”), Herb wants to make sure future seminarians are fully-focused on ministry and not burdened with the worry of debt. So, he wrote a check for $50,000 and told me, “I want to help these young people while I am alive.” He went on to say, “Let me know if you need any more.”
Earlier this year, through the Southern Province, four seminarians were awarded a total of almost $40,000. This sum represents what they had previously borrowed to pay for their response to the Call to serve the Moravian Church.
- Angelica Regalado is originally from Peru. She is the proud mother of a 10 year-old and a member of Friedland Moravian Church. Angelica graduated from Salem College and is studying at Wake Forest Divinity School.
- Victoria Lasley is from Winston-Salem and belongs to Bethania Moravian Church. She, too, graduated from Salem College and attends Wake Divinity School. To pay for her education, she works as a part-time hairdresser.
- Adam Goodrich is from East Bend, just on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, and belongs to the Olivet congregation. Adam attended Appalachian State in Boone, NC, and is studying at Moravian Theological Seminary.
- Andrew Craver is also from East Bend and a member of Konnoak Hills. Andrew attended Hampden–Sydney College in Virginia, was in ROTC, and graduated as an officer. Once he completes seminary, Andrew will return to full-time military service as an Army Chaplin. He attended Duke Divinity School and is completing his studies at Moravian.
So, last week the four seminarians and I traveled to Charlotte to have lunch with Herb. The conversations were lively and wonderful. They all shared their stories with each other. Everyone was thrilled. It was just memorable. Herb had one point he made throughout lunch: “Remember the Church is more than the building and the people who attend; it’s also ministering to the community. You must go out and be with the people. It is your calling.”
The Bishop W. Herbert Spaugh Ministerial and Children’s Educational Fund will eventually be worth in the mid-seven figures and funded through bequests. In the meantime, Herb wants to enjoy feeding the fund and watching the fruits of his generosity grow.
Speaking personally, the lunch was so much fun. God’s Grace was present and in abundance. I always enjoy my time with the people who make gifts, but to be a part of this special afternoon with five special people will be something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.