Hazelwood Christian Church Opens Permanent Fund, Allowing Members to Include Church in Their Estate Plans

“Our church needed to give our members an opportunity to give something back through their estate to the church that they loved and supported through their lifetime.” This is how Jim Warrner, moderator of Hazelwood Christian Church in Muncie, IN, saw the situation prior to that congregation’s adoption of a Permanent Fund policy in November 2009.

Mr. Warrner had accepted the challenge presented by the congregation’s pastor, the Rev. Colby Smith, to chair a new Permanent Fund Committee. Rev. Smith saw a congregation with people who loved the church and supported it well during their lifetime, but who were not offered the opportunity to support it through their estate plans. He believed many members would graciously respond to the invitation to include their church in their wills if they were given the confidence of how their gifts would be managed and used into the future.

Several saints of the Hazelwood congregation had left gifts in their estate plans, including a former pastor, Rev. Dr. Robert Sulanke, but as Mr.Warrner stated, “these were unsolicited by the congregation.”

The Permanent Fund Committee invited Foundation staff to attend an organizational meeting and discuss key provisions a policy might have that would inspire trust and invite members to support the congregation’s witness through estate gifts. Using Foundation assistance, the committee developed the policy and had it approved by the congregation, and have created a strategy to promote planned gifts to members.

Mr. Warrner stated, “The Permanent Fund provides confidence to our members that their gifts will be respected and used to support the church they have loved and its mission.”

As for the partnership with the Foundation, Mr. Warrner said, “We appreciate the assistance and look forward to continuing to have a strong relationship with the Foundation into the future.”