By Lydian Bernhardt
For years, Nancy Harney was a dedicated and joyful church worker at College Hill Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pa. Church treasurer, co-Sunday School superintendent, board and committee member — she jumped in and did it all.
Her husband Rich, however, took a longer path to church involvement.
“Nancy got involved at the church at the time that our oldest son was baptized, and was extremely active in every aspect of church life,” says Rich Harney. “I grew up attending church regularly but took some time off from going to church when I went to college, and I was in my 40s when I rejoined the church. “Nancy was key in bringing me back, and I’m glad that she did.”
In December 2011, Nancy Harney had a seizure, and was found to have a brain tumor. She was diagnosed with brain cancer, and died in November of 2013.
A few years later, Rich Harney established the Nancy C. Harney Memorial Fund, a donor-advised fund managed by the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America (MMFA). It’s one of four such funds which accepts contributions through the Moravian Giving Portal.
Instead of “putting his money where his mouth is,”Harney opts for letting his money follow his heart.
“Losing someone close to you is very hard, and (establishing the fund) helped, in some way, for me to keep her memory alive,”Harney says.
Through the fund, Rich is able to donate to many of Nancy’s favorite causes, including College Hill Moravian Church; the Moravian Music Foundation; Moravian College, where Nancy and Rich met; and the Board of World Mission. The fund also donates to five local charities that were important to her – 10 organizations in all.
Thanks to his role as Chair of College Hill’s endowment fund committee, Harney had known about the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America since its beginnings in 1998. After reading an article about donor-advised funds by MMFA President Chris Spaugh in The Moravian magazine, Harney says, he found the perfect way to honor Nancy.
“I believe that I was one of the first people to set up a donor advised fund with MMFA,” he says. “It really appealed to me because I could make donations in Nancy’s memory to the causes she cared about.
“Chris helped me set it up. He has been really good to work with.”
Over the years, Harney, an engineer, has discovered that he also has a talent for finance. A past treasurer of College Hill church and of the Moravian Board of World Mission, he is also a member of the board of the Society for Promoting the Gospel (SPG), the entity that provides significant financial support to the BWM. Organized in 1745, the society is the oldest incorporated Protestant mission society in the United States. MMFA manages the SPG endowment funds.
Harney says that it’s rewarding to use his financial expertise to benefit boards and organizations close to him.
“If SPG does a good job of choosing how the funds are managed, there’s more money available to fund those mission causes, and that’s very important,” he says. “The same is true for College Hill’s endowment fund.
“To me, managing these things well facilitates their ability to do more, whether it’s to fund programs, help maintain the church. or do mission work.”
As he looks back on his career, Harney says, he sees ways that he was spiritually led toward helping others through his financial skills.
“When I was young, I didn’t really care much about investing, but at some point I got involved in an investment club at work and it became something I was interested in,” he says. “Then, I got elected to the Board of Trustees at College Hill, and they needed someone to work on the endowment fund. I volunteered. I didn’t see it at the time, but now, I can see God’s hand at work in leading me in that direction, and to ways that I could contribute.”
As a personal cause, Harney has also directed funds toward the National Brain Tumor Society, the U.S.’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to brain tumor research, drug development and care for patients and their partners.
Now years later, Harney still looks for ways to put his money where his heart is.
“The period of Nancy’s illness and death was an extremely difficult time of my life, but she was the inspiration for doing this,” Harney says. “Using this fund to support causes that were important to Nancy, I can help keep her memory alive.”