In 2017, the River Road Church Endowment Fund turned 50 — an anniversary acknowledged with celebration and gratitude and highlighted by an invitation. As the 50th anniversary celebration began last spring, the “Celebrate 50 and 50 More” awareness campaign invited members and friends of River Road Church to learn more about the Endowment Fund, its history and its goals, at special events held for that purpose. In addition, attendees were urged to consider making a planned gift to the future ministries of River Road Church by including the Endowment Fund in their estate plans. By the end of 2017, and with the campaign still underway, the fund’s board had received notice of 49 legacy gift commitments to the River Road Church Endowment Fund in response to the campaign.

Why do tomorrow’s gifts matter? Consider today.

In 2017, our church’s Endowment Fund began the year with total investments of nearly $9 million. We “Celebrate 50” in our 50th anniversary year not only in tribute to those rst 50 years, but also in appreciation of the approximately 50 legacy gifts of all sizes that, carefully managed and invested, grew to become the fund our church’s ministries bene t from today. Because of those gifts, in 2017 alone our Endowment Fund was able to pay out approximately $373,000 in grants to River Road Church ministries and other causes the church supports, including:

  • $300,000 to strengthen the operating budget of the church
  • approximately $16,000 to the Fellowship Fund of the Board of Deacons to assist the poor in our communities
  • additional grants to make possible the music ministry’s Choral Scholars Program, the E. Carl Freeman Concert Series, and the purchase of new computers and other technology enhancements to support our church staff
  • $10,000 to disaster relief efforts undertaken by various Baptist organizations, and
  • a grant supporting the study of religious liberty at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR)

Even after the distribution of the above grants, as the calendar turned to 2018, the fund’s investments totaled approximately $10.1 million.The increase was due in large part to the receipt in 2017 of thirteen legacy gifts totaling approximately $185,000 and investment returns of 18.24%. The fund’s investments are managed by The Investment Fund for Foundations (TIFF). Since the inceptionof the TIFF account in 1995, the fund has had an annualized total return of 7.94%. As the fund grows, enhanced by careful administrationand management, so does the opportunity to impact the work of our church.

So what happens next?

Our anniversary year continues, and along with it our “Celebrate 50” campaign and our work to spread the news of the importanceof the Endowment Fund to the ongoing ministries of our church. In recent years, Endowment Fund grants have played a signi cant role in ensuring a healthy annual budget at River Road Church, supporting the church in hiring sta , strengthening ministries, fundingmissions and enabling our work together to grow the kingdom of God here in Richmond and throughout the world. Over and above the grants to support the budget, the fund additionally has made many valuable contributions to facility and ministry enhancements over the years, including those to provide vans for transportation, ramps and elevators to improve facility access, the columbarium, and a $100,000 grant in support of missions outreach administered by the Board of Missions, to name only a few.

As our anniversary celebration continues, so does the invitation to make your legacy gift commitment. All gifts, in all amounts, are important and gratefully received. If you’d like to know more about the many opportunities to arrange for a planned gift in your estate plans, any of the fund’s directors or a member of the ministerialsta can provide you with more information about the fund toguide your choices. You will also want to consult your personal tax and legal advisors to ensure the maximum bene t of your gift toyou and your heirs.

Along with that information, please consider this: the signi cantgrants mentioned here and many others over the years were made possible largely through the visionary gifts of 50 faithful who came before. What legacy will our gifts leave for the generations who follow us in doing God’s work from the corner of River and Ridge? As we think about the impact the ministries of River Road Church have had on our faith journeys and how God may be calling us to do his work in the world, may we be generous in our response to a generous God.

But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

A Time to Give Thanks

With gratitude for God’s generosity and for the many gifts supporting River Road Church’s work for Christ’s kingdom, the church family gathered for the Grateful Hearts Banquet on Sunday evening, November 19, 2017 in the Fellowship Hall. In recognition of the outpouring of generosity in recent years, not only to the annual stewardship campaigns, but also to the Rejoice and Give Thanks capital campaign, and to the Endowment’s 50th anniversary invitation, those gathered offered thanks for God’s many blessings and looked ahead with excitement to the opportunities of ministry to come, noting youth and family ministry in particular. With the costs of the dinner funded by the Endowment, contributions to the Fellowship Fund of the Board of Deacons were encouraged to aid and assist the poor of our community.

If you would like to learn more about the River Road Church Endowment Fund, please contact any member of the Board of Directors.

Hilton Almond; Fred Bagwell, vice president; Karen Collier; George Davis; Bill Gray, secretary; Ransone Hartz, president; Andy McAllister; Eleanor Nurney; Susan Phillips; Seth Roberts; Susan Rucker, treasurer; Bill Stanton

Sharing Our Gifts and Values

Written by Ed & Peggy Pruden

Last year, Peggy and I were part of a group that spent a lovely and informativeevening in Carolyn and Ransone Hartz’s beautiful home. Ransone, Bill Gray, and Daniel Glaze spoke with us about the history and purpose of our church’s endowmentfund. We had been aware of the existence of the fund, and knew of some of the projects and activities it had supported through the years. However, we had not given much thought to our own participation. The extent of our “estate planning” consisted of pondering how to divide our surviving resources among our three children. I guess we assumed that an endowment fund was supported by large, impressive gifts, and that ours wouldn’t matter that much. That, we learned, is an inaccurate assumption.

On the way home from the Hartz’s, Peggy and I had a conversation and decided to divide our estate four ways rather than three. The fourth recipient would be the institutions that have shaped and sustained our lives: River Road Church, Baptist; the universities we attended or that have enriched our lives; and institutions that we believe are indispensable in preserving the ideals we believe in. None of these recipients will be transformed by our gifts, but we know that many modest gifts are just as important as the occasional major gift.

A transformation did occur, however, for Peggy and me, as we have a newfound joy in knowing that our bequests make a statement about our values; and that our gifts, modest though they may be, are important to the sustainability of the institutions we love, appreciate, and wish to foster.

Originally published in the 2018 Spring Quarterly Explorer