Teaching Moment: Celebration & Thanksgiving-Gratitude for Giving Practices

By Joyce Rose-Harris

Rev. Matthew Titus, Pastor at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Newberry and Rev. Kris Litman-Koon, Pastor at All Saints Lutheran Church in Mt. Pleasant presented a teaching moment dealing with receipt of an unexpected large endowment gift. The primary question is how to be good stewards of such gifts, whether expected or unexpected?

Both churches were given financial guidance from Mitzie Schafer, Regional Gift Planner at the ELCA Foundation, on how to plan use of the gifts received.

It is encouraged that preparation for gifts received via estate giving be done in advance, noting that such gifts are not part of the regular Sunday morning offering, and therefore should be considered outside of regular weekly offering. Congregations should develop plans for all forms of gifts, especially those in significant amounts. Some questions to think about are (1) who will benefit from the gift and (2) how the gift will be distributed.

Large endowment gifts can actually bring stress and anxiety; therefore, having a clear policy will help make the process less stressful. The endowment gifts received by both pastors were put in a place where the funds couldn’t be used until a plan was formed. Part of the plan involved learning about the parishioner who gave the gift. Thinking about how the gift could be used by the congregation should be a collaborative effort, always keeping in focus the giver and what they were passionate about in life.

By Steven Reed

Presenters: Matthew Titus, Church of the Redeemer (Newberry) and Kris Litman-Koon, All Saints (Mt. Pleasant)

What do you do when you find out that your congregation is a recipient of a large gift? Each of these presenters described being faced with that challenge. Their teaching moment focused on how to receive and use the gift in a manner consistent with the mission of the church.

Titus and Litman-Koon asked if our congregations are ready to receive such gifts. Their advice is to seek out Deacon Mitzie Schafer of the ELCA Foundation, whose job it is to help congregations set up policies and procedures to receive and use such gifts for the ministry of the church. Schafer will help a congregation to be prepared to receive gifts and to receive them faithfully before those gifts are given.

Both of the gifts came from people who had passed away and left estate gifts to their congregations. As you think about using the gift, think about the donor and what the donor may wish to see happen with the money. One thing to remember is to tithe from that gift to the Synod and to the wider church.

Titus announced that 10% of their gift was tithed to the SC Synod in part to create scholarships for Seminary students to attend conferences and other educational opportunities, because the donor was interested in seminarians growing in faith, rather than growing in debt.

This is Christ’s Church. There is a place for you here.

We are the church that shares a living, daring confidence in God’s grace. Liberated by our faith, we embrace you as a whole person–questions, complexities and all. Join us as we do God’s work in Christ’s name for the life of the world.

Contact Information

ELCA South Carolina Synod
1003 Richland Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Telephone 803-765-0590
Fax 803-252-5558

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