Math Teacher, Devoted Disciple Chooses Permanent Fund to Support his Local Congregation

Leon Harter knew—and taught—math and statistics. A faithful Christian, he also understood that one day he would not be around to support the church he loved.

He added everything up, and found a way that he could continue to give to his Illinois congregation—even in death. When he died earlier this year, Mr. Harter had put his estate plans in place so that his annual gift to the congregation will be endowed.

Probably every congregation has a “Mr. Harter”—an individual who is deeply committed to the church. What makes Mr. Harter a little different is that he acted upon his commitment: Through his will and other estate-planning documents, he created a permanent fund at the Christian Church Foundation that will distribute a percent of the market value to his congregation in lieu of his annual pledge. While he could have given it outright to the congregation, he wanted to make sure church leaders understood this was to be his ongoing annual support of the church’s ministry. He didn’t want to see them tempted to use the principal, or for it to deter others’ stewardship.

Endowing a person’s pledge to a congregation is fairly simple: Take the annual gift and multiply it by 20.With 5% annual distributions from the permanent fund, the member’s previous support not only continues, but can grow to keep pace with inflation.