Originally published in the 2017 Summer Quarterly Explorer
When I think of the Endowment Fund, I think of the past, present, and future of River Road Church.
by Seth Roberts
I think about the past, and those visionary members whose hard work, love, and dedication brought many dreams to reality, including the Endowment Fund. I am humbled in the knowledge that I am a direct beneficiary of their dreams. I think about my own childhood and the blessings of growing up in this community of faith, my gratitude to my mother Carolyn Briggs for bringing us here. I remember great preaching by Dr. Slatton, hearing names like Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Jürgen Moltmann. I recall rich experiences and deep friendships in Youth Group, led by Roy and Jane Terry, and Chester Phelps. As a young adult, I remember becoming a part of the music ministry, feeling privileged to work under the direction of Carl Freeman, and alongside so many amazing musicians. One happy, magical day in May 1998, Libby and I were married in the sanctuary.
I think about the present. I think about being surrounded by a congregation of remarkable people every Sunday. I think of worship that proclaims good news, brings fresh insights into familiar scripture, tunes us to God’s presence, and brings us up against unfathomable mysteries. I think of many opportunities to learn, serve, and grow. I think of the excitement of a new pastor, and a rich and multi-faceted music program. I think about seeing God’s grace continually breaking in, in ways small and large.
I think about the future, about the amazing group of children and youth that are part of our community of faith, including my own daughters, Eleanor and Emelia. I think about the generation of children who will come after them. I want River Road Church to continue its remarkable ministry for them, to be a spiritual home where they can learn and grow in Christian discipleship, where they experience Christ in community, where excellence is sought, and where people seek and offer their best selves. I don’t know how River Road Church will choose to continue its ministry many years from now, but I know that God will work through those who will come after us. The Endowment is one way to ensure that they will have the resources to answer God’s call.
Our family’s contribution to the Endowment Fund is an expression of our hope that this unique community of faith will continue its ministry for many years to come.
Reflections on the Endowment Fund
by Bill Stanton
When Ransone Hartz asked me to write about my perspective on the Endowment Fund, it caused me to reflect on how much River Road Church means to me and how much it also meant to my wife, Ellen.
Nearly six years ago – in early August of 2011 – Ellen and I first visited River Road Church. It took only one visit to know that it was the right church for us. The service was a wonderful worship experience, and the warmth and friendliness of those we met made us feel welcome. We immediately felt as if we belonged. We joined River Road Church a few weeks later, on the Sunday after the earthquake. (Ellen and I always found it ironic that we lived in San Francisco for three years in the early nineties but had to move to Richmond to experience an earthquake!)
In September we joined the Friendship Class. We appreciated the outstanding teachers and again felt welcome immediately. We came to see that everyone genuinely cared about and took care of each other and knew that this was the right class for us.
The warmth, the spiritual depth, and the generosity of River Road members were always so evident to us – whether at Wednesday night dinners and programs; missions the church supported in Richmond and beyond; or through the loving care and support provided to members who were battling an illness, personal crisis, or dealing with the death of a spouse or loved one. I cannot tell you how much this support meant to me when Ellen passed away on Valentine’s Day in 2014, after an illness of several years.
It is because River Road Church was so important to Ellen and continues to be so important to me that I want to support the Endowment Fund through my estate plan. It is one small way in which I can express my gratitude to God for the blessing River Road Church has been in my life and that of my family.
As a member of the Finance Committee for several years, I have seen firsthand how important Endowment Fund grants to the church have been to supporting the church’s operating and capital needs, as well as missions causes. While we are hopeful that the percentage of support required for the operating budget will decrease over the next several years, gifts to the Endowment Fund will allow the Fund to continue to provide resources to enable River Road Church to expand its ministries in support of God’s Kingdom.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to have a small part in making it possible for the Endowment Fund to continue its support of River Road Church for the next 50 years – and, hopefully, well beyond – through my estate plan.
50th Anniversary Gatherings
We enjoyed fellowship and dinner with church friends in a beautiful home. The endowment focus of the dinner serves as a reminder of the wisdom of our church leadership decades ago in establishing a sustaining fund that assures financial stability for our church well into the future.
Laura Lee & Ted Chandler
Joe and I enjoyed the opportunity to join the buffet dinner at the Hartzes’ home to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Endowment Fund and learn about dreams for the future. The Hartzes’ hospitality, food, and fellowship were wonderful. We were inspired to give a legacy gift to the Endowment Fund that can be focused on Missions, Ministry, Music, or Masonry for the future ministry of our special church.
Bette and I believe in our Church. We appreciate the thoughtful faith it champions and the inspiring music that blesses all who worship here. What better way is there to extend these values into the future than to support our Endowment Fund?
Frank & Bette Schwall
Endowment Fund Prayer
Loving and Generous God, open our eyes to see the abundant blessings surrounding us. Open our mouths to express our thanksgiving for your unbounded love. Open our ears to hear the pressing needs of our church, our community, and our world. Open our hands that we may be ready and eager to help and serve others. Open now our hearts so our devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ may be expressed in our commitment to build your kingdom on earth, beginning here at River Road Church. May our faithful stewardship, in life and death, bear witness to our love of Jesus Christ. We pray with grateful hearts, in Jesus’ name. Amen.