By the Revs. Tom and Deborah Payden
We take our financial stewardship to the church seriously, and as a meeting about Planned Giving with Rev. Andrew Warner approached, we were feeling pretty good about our situation. In retirement our giving to our local congregation continued and small gifts were made to congregations we visited on given Sundays. We had a copy of our will where we could show that the local church would receive a portion of whatever estate was there to be settled. Things were in order.
A couple of days before meeting with Andrew we looked over the will to be clear about the language we had included for the church’s portion. We had to read it twice, but in the end, we were embarrassed to realize that no designation for the church had been included in our will! None! It wasn’t there! We both have clear recollections about our own conversations with one another and in our attorney’s office about including a financial gift to the congregation. But, for whatever reason, it was not included in the will.
We shared our surprised and rather embarrassing realization with Andrew when we visited together. We still plan on including a financial gift to the local congregation where we are members upon our death. We told Andrew we would contact our lawyer and change the will to include this important witness to the life of the church. However, we put that aside as the Covid-19 pandemic raised its ugly head and our attention was drawn to other practicalities.
When we finally decided to make the call to our lawyer, we discovered he had retired and moved. So we decided to meet with the other attorney in this office who was still in practice. That has yet to be accomplished at this writing. Suffice it to say that this will be changed once our physical distancing is eased enough to get back to our attorney’s office!
Including a financial gift, no matter what size or in what form, in your will to the church is a witness to the ministry of stewardship and to faith and hope in the future church of Jesus Christ. We hope you will find a way to do this. Make a conscious decision to include the church in your will. These gifts, often a surprise, can be a significant foundation for dreaming about what is possible in church ministries. Also, make sure about the language you have included about your Planned Giving. Check, and re-check, over the years to reassure yourself that your wishes have been made clear.
Of course, you should talk about it with your spouse, partner or family, but actually make sure you have included it in writing in your will! Perhaps this will prevent you from having a slap-your-forehead moment like we had!