What should we do with what is left when our visible ministry closes? It is a question that is asked with some regularity. Here is my usual response:
The Center for Faith and Giving suggests to any congregation ceasing its visible ministry that they consider designating the entire amount of their final assets to be placed within the Christian Church Foundation as a named Permanent Fund. A congregation concerned about its physical absence affecting local missions and Disciples-related causes, can designate a portion of their fund’s income distribution (not to exceed 49%) for non-Disciples ministries.
Under this formula, for example, three local missions such as a community kitchen, a homeless shelter, and local free clinic could each be named to receive an equal distribution from the 49% of the earnings designated for non-Disciples missions. Disciples-related missions such as the Region, Disciples Mission Fund, and Week of Compassion, could be named to receive an equal distribution from the 51% of the earnings designated for Disciples-related missions. (Of course, any number of designations and any desired percentages can be made. Those named above are meant to be examples only.)
The important piece is that for the Christian Church Foundation to hold the funds, at least 51% of the distribution must go to Disciples missions and ministries. These ministries can be a Disciples related college, seminary, camp, Region, General Ministry, or new church or congregational revitalization initiative, to name a few options. Of course, support for Disciples ministries may exceed 51% of the distribution.
When considering your gift, remember that Disciples Mission Fund serves the whole church as our covenantal partnership to support our common missions, including our Regions, Homeland and Global Missions, Education and Leadership Development, Benevolent care ministries, and the resources that maintain our life together as this unique part of Christ’s Church.
A permanent legacy fund is exactly that – a way for your congregation to continue its ministry and mission in perpetuity. This type of gift allows the legacy of your congregation to continue to spread the Good News in the world. Just because your physical doors have closed, your ministry does not need to end.