Foundation celebrates 50th year at General Assembly
About 4,700 Disciples attended the 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) held July 9-13 in Nashville, TN.
The Christian Church Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary at the General Assembly, thanking the church for seeding its ministries in the 1960s.
Rev. Gary W. Kidwell, in his report Assembly, pledged that the Foundation will always stay on mission as a financial ministry supporting the whole church through planned gifts, permanent funds and prudent investing. The Foundation is now stronger than before because it was able to weather the latest recession.
As part of the report, the following video was presented:
More than 525 people attended the Foundation's 50th anniversary banquet July 12. “As we have been preparing for the Foundation’s 50th birthday, I have been thinking a lot about those early leaders—the Browns, Dr. Fiers, Jim Reed, Spencer Austin, Rolland Sheafor, Theodore Beasley, John Compton, Hannah Younghusband, Ginny Spradlin,” President Kidwell said. “Do you think they had any idea what would become of their dream for a church-wide foundation? I look back and am amazed at how visionary they were.”
Kidwell said a 1962 financial report just had three numbers: Beginning cash of $1,585, less an investment of $987.12, for an ending cash balance of $597.88.
Much has changed as the Foundation no longer counts the pennies behind the decimal points, and assets are approaching half a billion dollars.
“But what is even more striking is how little has changed at the Foundation over the last 50 years,” Kidwell told the audience. “This ministry began with a clear commitment to serve all the ministries of the church, and that commitment remains a core value. Our founders were clear in their responsibility to listen for the needs and visions presented by potential donors, and then striving to make those donors’ needs central to how they did ministry. Thinking first of our donors’ needs and objectives remains central to our identity as a ministry.”
Those early leaders expected the Foundation to achieve great things: to strive for excellence, to carry out work as ministry, to keep a servant’s heart, and to know that — in the middle of our big dreams — God continues to call us forward, Kidwell said.
Retired Vice President James Oglesby was the keynote speaker. He said the Foundation’s keys to success have included integrity, transparency, excellent leadership and quality staff and Board of Directors.
“We are a financial institution so numbers are important,” Oglesby said. “The important numbers for me are how many people did we help? How much income did we produce for ministry? Last year the Foundation distributed more than $7 million. Those dollars can make an impact for good if they are spent wisely.”
The Foundation is poised to reach $1 billion in assets if four things happen, Oglesby said.
- “We simply must teach generosity of both spirit and resources. If we will teach generosity, then the Foundation can continue to prosper; if not, we won’t. I don’t know a better way to teach than by example and that is what the incarnation of God is about in Jesus Christ.
- “The Foundation will continue to grow if we select presidents who are smart and are good administrators and have integrity and love the church. It has been my privilege to work with all three of our presidents and though they are different, Jim (Reed), and Jim (Johnson) and Gary love this church and put their heart and soul into building the Christian Church Foundation. Rivers do not rise above their source and organizations seldom exceed the vision and work ethic of their leaders.
- “The Foundation will continue to grow if we select board members who will deliberate and make wise financial decisions. These are not bank board members who only watch the bottom line. These are honest to goodness local church people who go to Sunday School and serve on local committees.
- “The Foundation will continue to grow if we select staff who are self starters and are committed to the Church and care about people. They are ministers and they are certified financial planners and they are certified fund raising executives. Some have earned doctorate degrees. They are probably better qualified than development officers in any other denomination.”