Faith and family have been central to the lives of Jack and Mildred Barnes. That faithfulness was instilled in them during their childhoods in Missouri, and because of creative planning, they are sharing those values beyond their lifetimes.
They have an estate plan that designates, at their death, unused retirement assets to fund a testamentary charitable unitrust. The trust will provide annual payments to their son. At his death, the trust will distribute the remaining dollars into a permanent fund at the Christian Church Foundation.
“Giving to the church was always important to both of our homes,” said Jack, a retired Disciples minister. “Neither of our parents were wealthy people, and so what they gave to the church didn’t make that much difference to the church. But it made a lot of difference to them.”
“We were just so fortunate to be in a Sunday school setting where we were always inspired for Christian service,” Mrs. Barnes said, recalling how children too old for Vacation Bible School were recruited to be leaders.
The Barnes have devoted their lives to the church, serving several congregations and regions as well as professor on a Disciple college faculty. They have a deep love for the church, and their plan honors both the church and their son.
“This is a way of us remembering our son and, while not a vast amount, it will be enough that he will be reminded of us always caring about him, year after year after year,” Jack said.
The residual after their son’s death will go into a permanent fund managed by the Foundation. Based on the Barnes’ instructions, distribution from that fund will benefit a handful of congregations and other ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) forever.
“It just seemed like the best kind of stewardship, because this was a way of giving to the church and yet not just giving to one part of the church, but to the whole church.”
Now retired from active ministry, the Barnes spent six months in 2012 as volunteer missionaries in Zimbabwe with the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries. That experience further opened their eyes to the critical presence the church has around the world. They know their future gift will help make a difference for generations to come.
They also know putting an end-of-life plan in place is important. “You should feel a responsibility to your family, especially if you have kids,” Jack said. “This charitable trust just makes sense, that in this way, you help them to know that you love them and remember them.”
Their charitable gift also reinforces their belief in the importance of the Christian faith.
“The church is ever as important to us as anything else in the world,” he added. We have given our lives to the church and there’s nothing that we could list No. 1 above the church. The church is the body of Jesus Christ, and because it is, God isn’t going to let the church destroy itself. The church will look a lot different…but still the church for the world that it is in, even if the world is changing.”
Randy Johnson, Foundation vice president who assisted the Barnes in their planning, praises the couple for their witness. “This shows the dedication they have for the church and their son,” he said. “Their legacy is that they have lived their lives serving God through the church, and they haven’t stopped.”