Dinner Launches Ongoing Legacy Campaign
On May 10, 72 parishioners attended the kickoff for the Legacy Campaign at Hauser Hall where the youth of the church under the expert guidance of Melene Hatcher served a gourmet meal of tenderloin, salmon, and all the trimmings. John Holmes, chairman of the Legacy
Campaign Committee welcomed all and explained the purpose of the campaign. “The Legacy Campaign is an educational campaign for parishioners in how they might make a permanent or endowment gift to the church either during their life or in their final estate plans. There will be no pledge cards, no monetary goals, and no pressure. We want to plant the seeds of knowledge and see if some take hold.”
Holmes went on to explain that while 78% of Americans give to a charity every year, only 6% leave anything to charity in their final estate plans. “The #1 reason that people give for not naming their favorite charity in their will is that they didn’t think of it. If I could sum up the entire mission of the Legacy Campaign is simply to get parishioners to think of it. That’s it in a nutshell, nothing more, nothing less.”
Rev. Alves gave brief remarks regarding the priest’s duty to instruct his parishioners that they should make plans for the final disposition of their estate, to provide for their heirs and to remember the church. He also gave an inspirational homily on our duty as Christian stewards of God’s bounty.The keynote speaker for the dinner was local attorney, Bob Ray. Mr. Ray holds a Masters of Tax Law from New York University and is widely regarded as one of the top estate attorneys in North Carolina. Mr. Ray reviewed the importance of having a will and the implications of not taking care of this important matter. He also reviewed a number ways that parishioners could make a planned gift and the estate and tax implications of each:
- Outright bequest of cash
- Securities (stocks, bonds)
- Real Estate
- Life Insurance
- IRA or 401(k)
Holmes closed the evening with the following remarks, “Tonight we begin the journey, to get you to think about it, to think about what others have done for this church and for us in generations past, and what a gift that you might give will mean for generations to come. Your will is your last opportunity to reflect your Christian values and to leave a legacy of your faith.”
Smithsons Set Wonderful Example
After longtime St. John’s member Charles “Chink” Smithson sold his Fayetteville beer distributorship in 1978, he turned to his friend and accountant Charles vonRosenberg for help in setting up his estate. vonRosenberg, another longtime and active St. John’s member, agreed to help Smithson and his wife, Grace, with their plans.
One of the things that vonRosenberg, known affectionately around St. John’s as “VonR” before his death in 2005, convinced the Smithsons to do was to remember the church where they had been members since 1946 with a bequest from their estate. The Smithsons agreed to include such a bequest in their plans.Grace Smithson passed away in December 1984, and her husband’s death followed in May of 1985. The two were buried at Cavalry Episcopal Church in Tarboro, from which they had moved to St. John’s 40 years earlier.
Shortly after Chink Smithson’s death, assets from the Smithson estate began arriving at St. John’s and continued over the next several years. The vestry established the Smithson Fund for the benefit of the church, and when payments from the estate were completed in 1991, approximately $450,000 in unrestricted funds had been transferred to St. John’s.
That same year, the Vestry learned that the Kyle House would be sold by the City of Fayetteville, which had purchased the building from the Kyle family in 1963 and used it for offices for the mayor and city administration. vonRosenberg and other church leaders recognized the value of this adjacent property to St. John’s, and the Vestry tapped the Smithson fund to meet the city’s purchase price of $250,000, adding another $26,000 for expenses and repairs to the structure.
The vestry also agreed to transfer approximately $24,000 in income each year from the Smithson Fund to the church’s Building Fund for the maintenance of the Kyle property and the rest of the church campus. The Smithson Fund also became known as the Smithson/Kyle Fund in 1991, as it was merged with a small fund called the Kyle Legacy that had been established in 1932.
Nearly 20 years later, the Vestry decided to tap the fund again in a major way again to finally settle the debt that had helped fund the major campus expansion that provided the multi-purpose room and preschool and other classrooms to the church in 2002. Debt service from that project had drained cash flow from the church’s operating budget for nearly 10 years, and the Vestry decided that a better use of funds would be to pay off the debt with endowment assets. In doing so, they voted to rename the multi-purpose room Smithson Hall.
The Smithson’s generous bequest to St. John’s is a glowing example of what planned giving can do to fund the mission of St. John’s for subsequent generations of parishioners. Without the forethought of people like Chink and Grace Smithson, the church probably would not have been able to acquire the Kyle property, whose building and grounds have become an integral part of parish life for the past 20 years. In an amazing example of stewardship, the Smithson’s original bequest is currently worth more today than the original $450,000 that passed to St. John’s despite having disbursed more than twice its original value.
In order to encourage and facilitate such far-sighted generosity, St. John’s has established a Planned Giving Committee under the leadership of John Holmes. Two years ago, the Vestry approved provisions for encouraging and accepting gifts such as those from the Smithson estate, and this year the committee will be taking a more public role in educating the parish on the subject of Planned Giving. Events and printed materials are currently being organized, and a series of communications will begin soon regarding this important “third leg” of stewardship, which also includes annual giving and the occasional capital campaign. Look for more information on planned giving as the year unfolds.
Introduction to Planned Giving
We at St. John’s have been blessed to
The Kyle House was purchased and is maintained
largely with funds bequested to St. John's
have received endowment gifts from parishioners through the years that have helped fund past, present and future ministries and provided
for outreach and philanthropy. Most of us are familiar with parishioner philanthropists such as Hal Elliott, May Catherine Huske, and Chink and Grace Smithson, and there are others, far too numerous to name, who have made legacy gifts that continue to fund the mission and ministries of St. John’s in perpetuity. They exemplify the true meaning of Christian stewardship.
The Vestry has decided to begin a formal Planned Giving Campaign at St. John’s. The purpose of starting a planned giving campaign is to educate and facilitate gifts to the church endowment during either the donor’s life, or after death. Planned giving is part of the three-legged stool of Christian stewardship along with the annual Every Member Canvass and periodic capital campaigns. A planned giving campaign works in concert with these other two legs of stewardship, but differs in that it can be started at any time, has no specific monetary goals, and has no end date. Many churches in our diocese already have such campaigns in place.
John Holmes has agreed to chair the Planned Giving Committee. According to Holmes,
“Our job will be to educate, promote, and facilitate planned giving by making donors aware of the variety of opportunities they have to make a gift that is right for them and the Church and to have the tools in place to make it happen.” This will be done through mailings, seminars on legal, tax and estate planning, brochures, newsletter and journal articles and the like. “We will be the sower of the seeds, the preparers of the soil, ‘…and some of the seed fell into good soil, where it came up and grew and bore fruit…’ (Mark 4:8).”
You can also learn more about planned giving through the Episcopal Church Foundation’s website www.EpiscopalFoundation.org.