Foundation Honors Congregation at 2013 Assembly


The Foundation presented the James P. Johnson Stewardship Award to representatives of Sandy Springs (GA) Christian Church at the Foundation’s General Assembly dinner July 16. More than 525 people attended the banquet, making it the largest meal function that was held as part of the Assembly.

The Sandy Springs congregation was honored for its overall efforts in stewardship, its commitment to outreach ministries and its support of Disciples Mission Fund, the general funding system of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Of particular note, said Foundation Southeast Vice President Randy Johnson, was the congregation’s new “Fellowship of Legacy Builders” program that encourages church members to put legacy gifts in place to enhance the congregation’s future witness. Their successful partnership with the Foundation has created a shift in how development staff members work with congregations in this new model.
The Rev. Danny Gulden, Sandy Springs senior minister, and Rev. Linda Whitmire accepted the award.

“We are beyond grateful as a congregation to receive the James P. Johnson Stewardship Award from the Christian Church Foundation.” Gulden said. “Sandy Springs Christian Church has strived to be a congregation both generous in its welcome and its resources. Our congregation has been faithful in giving to Outreach and Mission ministries, including Disciples Mission Fund. The piece we were missing was giving members an opportunity to leave a generous legacy within the congregation with their financial resources. With the help of the Christian Church Foundation, we began our Legacy Builders ministry, encouraging members to leave a legacy though financial resources. Our members have responded most graciously to this invitation to further generosity.”

Below is a video presented during the program.

     Here is an earlier vdeo about the congregation's Fellowship of Legacy Builders program.

President Kidwell reports to Assembly

Foundation President Gary Kidwell reported to the General Assembly on July 15 on the financial health of the Foundation, thanking donors and partners. He highlighted 2012 results that saw the Foundation exceed $500 million in assets for the first time and distributions from permanent funds and other direct gifts of $7.2 million. “This amount does not even include the dollars distributed by our partner ministries who use our investment services.”

But the key part of his message dealt with vision: “God is still handing out visions. What vision has God given you?  To help youth attend church camp where they can be immersed in stories of the faith and may even hear a call to Christian vocation? To be a witness of compassion and reconciliation? Proclaiming peace and incarnating Jesus with critical presence across the globe? Maybe you’ve been called to help prepare the next generation of leaders of the Church? Or, perhaps your dream is to be that example in your congregation of how a little planned giving can make a difference forever?

“My friends, we can still do big and great things. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is still changing lives through its mission, and the Gospel we proclaim has not lost its power.  The world needs a witness to the power of faith, hope, and love now more than ever—perhaps more now than any time in history.  And it is our turn now!”

With development staff standing behind him on the stage, Kidwell added:

“Money is an important element of the Foundation.  Financial heft allows us to be a stronger partner for each donor and each ministry partner who entrusts us to steward their legacy gift.  Money allows us to bear more fruit, to distribute more funds for ministry, and to support our ministry partners in ways that increase their available funds for ministry.  But what each of my colleagues behind me will quickly tell you is what gets us up every morning and what drives us as a financial ministry is not the money.  It is about the mission:

  • Helping donors plan and put into action their vision.
  • Mentoring congregations in the art of planned giving.
  • Partnering with every ministry of the Church to increase their capacity and reach.  Walking with congregations who have decided to close their visible ministry and helping them to put into place a legacy that will live on.
  • Managing investments that not only yield strong returns, but managing God’s money in a manner that is consistent with our faith and values.

That is what drives us!”

The 2015 General Assembly will be  held July 19-23 in Columbus, OH.

(Aug. 2013)