May 7, 2017
A few years ago, Judy Whitford decided that it was time to get her estate in order. After the passing of her husband, she realized how his work in “putting things in order” had helped her—something she wanted to do for her two children and six grandchildren.
“I don’t have a lot of money—and if I live as long as my parents and my grandmother, there might not be anything left,” she explained. That said, she decided to leave 10 percent of her estate, whatever that might be, to the First Presbyterian Church of Iowa City. “I may end up increasing that–but for now that is where I felt I could begin,” she said.
“My reason for doing this is basically my upbringing and learning that tithing is the place to begin, not the end.
“I feel very blessed with everything that I was given, so I wanted to make some decisions now rather than waiting until I’m old,” she shared. A teacher by background, she loves to empower others—and hopes to do so even after she’s gone with the “Whitford Empowerment Fund” set up at the church.
Empowering people, for her, has ripples that travel far beyond the initial work. “If we do it here, it can spread all over the world.
“We never know what we say or do, who it is going to impact, how, and how widespread the impact might be,” she continued. “Even if my gift is little—even if it is a widow’s mite—it can have an impact because no gift is insignificant.”
Whitford chose to leave a legacy that will be ongoing. It was something she felt called to do, and it allows her to set an example for her children and grandchildren.
“When someone dies who is close to you, right after, you almost feel dead,” she shared. “But I have been blessed with a loving family, church, friends and God’s grace, and that has allowed me to go through the dark and to feel alive again. In that aliveness, I see the importance of this sharing.”
In recent years the church has received a few bequests, and Whitford thinks it is beginning to open the eyes of others to the possibilities of doing so themselves. One woman, having no family, left her entire estate to the church. “The church was her family,” explained Whitford, whose time serving on the session has allowed her to see what a significant impact that one woman’s gift has had.
Live Forward, Give Forward is a wills program from the Presbyterian Foundation designed to help pastors and church leaders talk to their congregations about future bequests. Resources for a wills program are available at presbyterianfoundation.org/willsprogram. A Presbyterian Foundation Ministry Relations Officer is also available to discuss starting a wills program in your church or ministry.
Pam Greer-Ullrich, APR, director, public relations, Presbyterian Foundation
Today’s Focus: Minute for Mission: 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.