May 6, 2018
Writing a will is “an act of love and responsibility,” says Sherry Kenney, a ministry relations officer with the Presbyterian Foundation. A will enables you to designate guardians for any surviving dependents and to determine how your assets will be distributed. Without a will, the probate court will make those decisions.
In her work with congregations on stewardship, Kenney stresses the importance of writing a will and keeping it up to date. She also encourages pastors and other church leaders to talk with members about leaving a bequest to the church — a legacy of faith that will support the church or a favorite mission for years to come.
“A bequest allows someone to continue to participate in the mission of the church even when they are no longer able to be there,” she says.
Many Presbyterians may never have thought about leaving money to the church in their wills. That’s why it’s vital that pastors and church leaders initiate conversations about planned gifts, Kenney says. And the invitation to leave a bequest should be extended more than once.
“Not everyone will act on it,” Kenney says, “but they certainly can’t accept an invitation that has never been extended.”
One congregation that has taken Kenney’s message to heart and launched a robust planned giving program is First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. Leaders of the church first reached out to Kenney about the investment of their endowment funds. That initial meeting led to conversations about developing a wills emphasis program.
A few months later, the congregation was invited to a luncheon after worship one Sunday to learn about legacy giving. Members 55 and older received letters encouraging them to attend. Planners of the event came up with a theme — “Legacy of a Lifetime”— and had it printed on placemats and on a cake served at the luncheon.
Kenney and her husband, Andy, attended the luncheon, and she shared their story about leaving a bequest to their congregation, Central Presbyterian Church in Denver.
Kenney believes the new emphasis on planned giving has energized the Bentonville congregation and put them well on their way toward their goal of “creating a culture of legacy giving.”
The Presbyterian Foundation’s “Live Forward, Give Forward” program offers resources to help churches encourage giving through charitable bequests, permanent endowment funds and other estate plans. For more information, call 800-858-6127 or visit presbyterianfoundation.org.
Eva Stimson for Presbyterian Foundation
Today’s Focus: Wills Emphasis Sunday
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Lord, thank you for your blessings. Whether in plenty or with little, teach us to be cheerful givers and give from a full heart that serves and uses your gifts in ways that will bless others. Amen.