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Gifts that keep giving and help share God’s love

November 28, 2010 No Comment

by Allen Schellenberg 

Allen Schellenberg conducting a wills and estate planning workshop

If you have attended my presentation Christian Estate and Will Planning, you have heard me share that I have been a member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Richmond, B.C. for close to 54 years. Well, I’ve checked with my mother, and although close, that’s not exactly correct. I first started going to Trinity 54 years ago when a neighbour took me and others to VBS with her own children. My mother claims it wasn’t unusual back then for parents to pack eight or more kids into a large four-door sedan to take everyone where they needed to be.

 After VBS, my parents enrolled me in Sunday school, and they began attending church. It wasn’t until 1960 that my father, two siblings and I were baptized. I still remember attending Sunday school, all dressed up in a navy sailor suit and my younger sister in a white frilly dress. I’m still occasionally reminded of that sailor suit by my first Sunday school teachers, some of whom still attend Trinity. (They also say how well behaved I was!) I also remember the large number of children every Sunday; a sign announced a weekly average of around 150 children. 

Times sure have changed, haven’t they? As a frequent traveller, I often attend church in different cities and towns. I think we’d all agree there are far fewer children in church these days, and even at conventions there are far fewer young or middle-aged individuals actively involved.  How will this affect the work of the church in the future? How will it be supported?

In all my presentations I encourage people to consider a planned gift within their estate for the on-going work of the church. Prior to starting work with Lutheran Foundation Canada, I admit it wasn’t something I’d considered. This was not so much a specific decision on my part; it just wasn’t something I’d thought about. I could also claim that no one had directly asked me for an estate gift, but even if they had, quite honestly I’m not sure how I would have responded.

Don’t get me wrong, my home congregation has shown amazing support throughout my life, and I thank God for the blessings I’ve received because of my Christian brothers and sisters at Trinity. Nonetheless, I suppose I considered an estate gift simply one final offering added to a lifetime of Sunday offerings, so how could it make any difference? And what about my family, didn’t I have a responsibility to take care of them? I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

Estate gifts give you the opportunity to thank God for all the worldly blessings He has so richly provided.

Once I learned how estate gifts worked, I was overjoyed to learn that even I could make a significant difference to either Trinity’s ministry and/or another Lutheran Church–Canada organization, while still taking appropriate care of my family. How is this possible? By realizing that about one half of the gift is made up of refunded tax (that your estate would have to otherwise pay), and the other half is from the portion left for family. Even with a rather significant gift, the amount used from the estate to fund a gift becomes a very small percentage of most estates, with minimal impact on the portion remaining for family.

Why are estate gifts important? I think there are a number of reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to thank God for all the worldly blessings (your estate) He has so richly provided.  Second, is for the reason alluded to in my opening paragraphs. If this generation does not take meaningful steps to create a legacy for future generations, many of the organizations we see doing such fantastic work will no longer exist. Think of all the ministry carried out by congregations, districts, synod, the seminaries, the auxiliaries and the Listed Service Organizations of Lutheran Church–Canada!

Currently, most organizations are funded by annual donations from their supporters, and the people actively involved in each ministry. In the next ten to fifteen years many of these supporters will have met their Saviour face to face, severely diminishing the financial support given to most of these organizations in the future.  

Now is the time to plan a gift within your estate, so when the gift is received, it can be invested and the earnings used to fund on-going ministry. Planned gifts are vital for these organizations to continue the mission as commanded by our Lord, to “….make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost…” Your estate gift will ensure the vital work of the organizations you currently support and value, will continue long after you are gone. 

Lutheran Foundation Canada assists individuals by providing options for how to best structure the gift, provide appropriate language for your will, and upon settlement of your estate, manage the transfer of your gift to your desired ministry organizations. Contact the Gift Coordinator in your district to learn more about planned giving so you can make a difference for your loved ones and the ministries you value. For more information see www.lutheranfoundation.ca.

Find a Christian Estate and Will Planning Seminar near you.

Allen Schellenberg is the senior gift coordinator for Lutheran Foundation Canada