Grace UMC Foundation Grows and Supports Many Grace Ministries in 2017

By Scott Oats

The Foundation funded several new initiatives and current ministries in 2017. These activities are not normally included in the annual budget. The Foundation is able to provide this through the accumulation of donations over many years from generous members that included the Foundation in their wills or from outright gifts.  In 2017, the Foundation supported: leadership through continuing education, Children and Youth Ministries, Music Ministry, North Central College Scholarships, Russian Initiative Ministry, Outreach programs, Faith Build, Boy Scout Troop 555 and building and grounds improvements. 

The Foundation received a large bequest from the estate of Juanita Burney in 2017.  Juanita felt it was important 
to provide for the Church in her estate as she was a long-time active member of Grace Church and was involved in UMW as a member of Ruth Circle. Juanita’s late husband Don gifted the proceeds of his life insurance policy to the Foundation in 2014.  Don and Juanita requested that a non-designated endowment be established.  The Don and Juanita Burney Endowment is principal retained and will assist in meeting the Church’s needs for generations.  These gifts were thoughtfully planned and are a testament to the benefits of a planned giving program which results may not be realized for many years but will enhance the long-term purpose and mission of the Church.  With gifts, such as that of the Burney’s, the Foundation will continue to fulfill God’s plans for Grace.

The Foundation Board Members encourage training and development of Grace Church leaders through the Continuing Education Fund.  A group of the Church staff attended the Leadership Summit at the Church of the Resurrection UMC in Kansas City.  This is a well-known program for Church leadership. The Foundation paid the tuition for Lynn Leitzen, Director of Children’s Music Ministries, to participate in the third and final year of a three-year training program of the Choristers Guild Institute in Wingate, N.C.  This training is very valuable in Lynn’s ongoing work with the Children’s Music Programs at Grace.  We are grateful to Ruth Gish and others whose generosity and evangelical spirit resulted in an endowment to provide this education for our leaders.  The Eric Harrison Plummer Music Memorial paid for Lynn Leitzen’s training and certification under the Musikgarten model. Lynn used this certification to launch an exciting new Children’s Music Class called Treble Tikes that has expanded the current offering of classes to include Pre-K children. The Foundation contributed to the academic and spiritual development of our youth in the congregation by providing scholarships to North Central College.  Three youths received $1,000 scholarships to attend North Central College.  The United Methodist Dollars for Scholars program and North Central College both match our scholarships, tripling the amount for each student. The North Central College Tuition 
Fund established by Anna Stephenson and the Bill Abe Endowment provided the scholarships.  These are also good examples of planned giving and current giving that allow the Foundation to expand Church programs beyond the annual budget. 

The Children’s Faith Formation and Youth Ministries were identified by the Vision Teams as important programs to enhance the spiritual development of our Children and Youth and to attract new families to Grace. The Holloway Endowment for Children’s Ministry helped VBS by financing a North Central College partnership, whereby college students were leaders, as well as a new VBS Celebration night.  A new portable speaker system was purchased through the Endowment for Youth established by Paul Post.  The system will be used on Side by Side and other youth events as well as other Church Ministries.  The Roberts Youth Trip Scholarship Fund, established by Ruth Elizabeth Roberts, will be providing scholarships for 2018 Side by Side and Hope@Home ministries. 

The Foundation paid for the travel for two Russian Ministers to visit Grace Church through the Holloway Endowment for International Ministries and the Holloway Endowment for Russian Initiatives.

The Landscaping Fund was used to address erosion problems on the Church grounds. 

Memorials plus generous donations from present and past members, families, and friends of Grace have given the Foundation the opportunity to enhance the Church facility by contributing to the cost of installing a T-Coil system for people with hearing aids. Memorials were used to purchase a new rehearsal piano and computer to be used by the Music Ministry. A concert in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation was sponsored by memorials as well as the Evensong services. Grace sponsors Boy Scout Troop 555 by letting them meet in Fellowship Hall. Memorials were used to provide Lifetime Membership in the Eagle Scout Association for three Scouts obtaining the Eagle Scout Rank.  The Praise Team organized a new Music and Movie Night for our congregation and as an outreach to our local community that was sponsored by memorials.

The Rodney Gene Lacy Memorial Garden is a vital asset of Grace.  The cost of maintaining the garden is entirely provided by one of our members. It serves as a blessing to those who have loved ones interred in the Garden and is open to all who yearn for an area of peace and beauty throughout the year. In November, on All Saints Sunday, a memorial service for families is held in the garden.  At this service, families and friends celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died.  

One of the major areas of responsibility for the Foundation is being a good steward of the gifts received.  To that end, we work with Northern Trust and Morgan Stanley to identify the direction of our investments. Each year in January we assess our financial position and determine what percentage of our gains will be allocated to our individual principal retained accounts.  This discussion provides the staff with an entire year to consider their priorities and present them for approval.  It remains the purpose of the Foundation to assist the Church in areas other than those covered by the annual budget.  

We are grateful for those that have given, continue to give and that have included the Foundation in their wills or Trusts.  Your gifts are being used to glorify God and meet the needs of those in our church, community and broader world.  If you have any questions about the Foundation or how to make a planned gift, please contact Scott Oats (soats@, Pastor Cindy (, or Pastor Tammy (