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Endowment Program


The Endowment Program was established in 2009 to provide for financial support for specific needs and programs of the Church that are not funded by the annual operating budget. It presents a means to establish a financial foundation upon which, with God’s help, we can use the gifts received for His purposes, now and for generations to come.

The Permanent Endowment Fund Committee which is comprised of nine voting members, and the Senior Minister and the Director of Administration as non-voting members, administers the Endowment Program.  Initially, the Endowment Program consisted of two specific endowment funds – the Mission Endowment Fund and the Property Endowment Fund, and a General Endowment Fund which is comprised of undesignated gifts. The Endowment Program also provides for the establishment of a separate endowment fund to support a specific purpose (a “Specific Purpose Endowment Fund”) which requires an initial gift of at least $10,000.

All endowment funds are currently managed by the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina, Inc.

The Endowment Program is open to all and, despite the popular connotation of the word “endowment,” gratefully accepts gifts of any size in memory, in honor, in gratitude or otherwise. An endowment gift is one of the most important, yet neglected, aspects of stewardship. To endow means to leave a legacy, to provide a future income, to invest in the future or to carry forward that which we cherish now.

Those who practice Extravagant Generosity have a God given vision and faith to plant seeds for trees whose shade they will never see.  -- Bishop Robert Schnase

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is an endowment and why do we have one?

An endowment program provides for long term investments in the church. A gift is invested in an endowment fund and the income earned on the investment is used to support and expand ministries that are beyond the normal resources of the church.  The Endowment Program provides an opportunity to insure that the spiritual, educational and outreach programs St. Stephen is known for will be funded in perpetuity.  It is a means for you to express special thanks to God for the many blessings and gifts you have received, and it allows you to return a portion of assets accumulated during your life’s work.  What better way to fulfill the 4th point of St. Stephen’s Vision Statement, “Teach and guide the next generation through example.”

Where does an endowment program fit into the church’s stewardship program?

There are several basic areas to which we give including the ministry funding plan (annual budget), special causes such as a capital campaign, outreach ministry and endowment. Each area is important to the life of the church. It is important to note that the endowment program, as well as capital campaign or outreach funds, is not a means of providing for apportionments or shortfalls in the operating budget.  These are areas to be addressed by the current membership.

I have a favorite “cause.” Can I support it through the Endowment Program?

With some minimal qualifications, yes.  Donors may designate the area of ministry for which they have a personal passion and to which they wish to have their contribution applied such as music, outreach, youth, or mission, or they may prefer to make an undesignated gift.

How can I contribute to the Endowment Program?

  1. Make a bequest through your will. This designation may be for a specific amount, a percentage of the balance of your estate after taxes or specific bequests (consider a tithe), or even as a contingent beneficiary in the event all other beneficiaries are deceased. A bequest is relatively easy to arrange, does not affect your assets or cash flow during your lifetime, and is revocable.
  2. Designate the Endowment Program as a beneficiary of your private retirement fund (Traditional IRA, SEP, 401(k), 403(b), etc).  This is an easy and tax efficient way to give.
  3. Consider the gift of life insurance by making the church a beneficiary of a policy on your life.
  4. Use appreciated assets such as securities, real estate, etc.
  5. Life income gifts including Charitable Gift Annuities, Charitable Remainder Unitrusts, and Charitable Lead Trusts.
  6. Cash.

In all instances where tax benefits are anticipated, please consult with your attorney, tax adviser, and/or financial adviser as appropriate.

Does the Endowment Program have written policies and regulations? May I see a copy?

The Declaration of Endowment which was approved by Church Council on June 23, 2009 and adopted by the Charge Conference of St. Stephen United Methodist Church on July 21, 2009, contains the rules and operating procedures for the Endowment Program. A copy is available in the church office and you may share it with your advisory team.

Will my gift remain confidential?

All gifts or donations are treated with strict confidentiality. If you are considering a memorial or honorary gift, the family or the individual will be notified of the gift.  All gifts to the endowment are recognized in the Grapevine and all gifts through estate plans (the Legacy Society) are consecrated during worship on a Sunday near Thanksgiving.  In no case will the amount of the gift be disclosed. If, however, you wish to remain anonymous, your wishes will be honored.

This all sounds complex. Can someone guide me through this?

Yes. Please contact any member of the Permanent Endowment Fund Committee and they will be glad to discuss your interests and how to address them. If you wish, they will assist in directing you to professionals who can help in implementing your desires.

I’d like to know more about wills and estate planning. Can you help?

Committee members will be happy to answer your general questions to the best of their ability and will then refer you to others to help you find the answers you need.  The committee also sponsors periodic educational seminars on estate planning and planned giving.

Permanent Endowment Fund Committee

Bob Evans, Chair
Steve Morris, Vice Chair
Susan Morris Adams
Martin Davidson
Jo Ann Enten
Will Wallace
Walter Hutto
Peggy Lancaster
Roger Wright
Keith Bingham, ExOfficio
Sally Probst, ExOfficio