by Jim Cullumber, Christian Church Foundation
The Rev. Brian Daly of Pacific Beach Christian Church has some simple words of advice for congregations without permanent, or endowment, funds: Get started now!
Daly puts it this way: "It's easy to think you don't have enough resources to start a permanent fund or that your immediate needs are greater than your long-term needs. It took our congregation over 50 years to start a permanent fund and we started it with a $2,000 gift given by one of the charter members of the church who wanted to contribute to something that would bless the church long after she was gone. While it wasn't a large gift, we celebrated it (and her) as if she had given us a million dollars. It was something new and different and provided people an opportunity to think about ways of giving beyond their weekly or monthly offering."
Key to the process was a permanent fund policy. With assistance from the Christian Church Foundation, Pacific Beach Christian Church created a policy that works for them.
"The primary boost to our permanent fund came when we specified in our policy that 'undesignated' gifts to the church via bequests would automatically be directed to the permanent fund," Daly said.
"After we clarified our policy, we received three significant bequests within a year of each other," he said. "Rather than tempting us to debate how and where to direct the money, those gifts were invested directly in the permanent fund. During this time we were also beginning to articulate a vision for the church that included the hiring of an associate pastor and the launching of a home for those recovering from addictions. The timing was such that the congregation is beginning to see how the permanent fund is helping us take huge steps forward toward fulfilling this vision."
The Rev. Marilyn Fiddmont, the Christian Church Foundation vice president whose territory includes the Pacific Southwest Region, said the congregation located near San Diego is a shining example of what can happen with permanent funds.
"The church leaders took the time to develop a strong policy with the Foundation's help, and now they are seeing the benefits of having a thriving permanent fund," she said.
Added Daly: "So don't wait. Help is available and you will be surprised at the kinds of unexpected gifts you will receive along the way. In the 15 years since we started our permanent fund it has grown to over $475,000 and lots of other seeds for potential gifts have been sown that will likely bear even more fruit in the next 15 years and beyond."
Reprinted from "Disciples Together," Resources for Pastors from the General Ministries of the Christian Church, June 15, 2015.