President’s Message

December 18, 2019 by Presbyterian Foundation

Rev. Dr. Tom Taylor, J.D., Ph.D. President and CEO

Advent is a favorite time of year. It invites both reflection and anticipation. It is an excellent time to consider the path of your ministry as well as your life.

Our most recent board meeting was a way for us to do this as well. Board meetings are an invitation to slow down, check in with each other, and think strategically, together.

I’m grateful, always, for the time and energy that our board members put into board service. Every board member is a busy person whose time is in demand, and board service is demanding, too. I’m grateful for each and every person who has accepted the invitation.

At our November board meeting in Greensboro, N.C., we heard from Rev. Dr. Eileen Lindner. The Foundation engaged Eileen to do extensive research to study and document the opportunities available to us as assets are handed down through the generations. We have shared this information with our colleagues across the denomination, and particularly at the Presbyterian Mission Agency and Office of the General Assembly, as we believe this information is crucial to our church’s future.

Eileen Lindner’s very illuminating report and findings on the current and future wealth transfer stressed several new areas of attention for the Foundation. Her findings include:

  • Technological advances to provide cutting edge means to pursue online gifts capture our increasing emphasis on “giving while living,” while also continuing our traditional work in planned giving and end of life gifts.
  • Developing and stressing contemporary cultural philanthropic ideals purported by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and others. We want to encourage passing your estate to worthy causes beyond your children or family.
  • Developing theological emphases targeting younger generations of Presbyterians inheriting estate gifts, emphasizing to them attractive propositions for giving.

To these ends, our Asset Gathering and Development staff have begun to systematize and restructure our staff and practices so that we are poised to capitalize on the wealth transfer. These means include:

  1. Establish guiding principles identifying the audiences, scope, and types of services that the Foundation should focus on to best capitalize on the wealth transfer.
  2. Sharpen our focus on several thematic aspects of our work. These foci include being donor-centered, yet sensitive to the changing nature of beneficiaries in wealth transfer. Children don’t necessarily want their parents’ stuff, but know it has value. How can we help them be generous with these assets?

We also want to offer educational programs for pastors, church leaders and donors to maximize their philanthropic goals. We are positioning the Foundation and New Covenant Trust Company as key sources of expertise.

As is our culture at the Foundation, all of this work will be done through the Asset Gathering Committee.

A second part of Eileen’s research tackles church property. As we all know, churches do close, and sometimes those properties are sold or leave the denomination. Her research delved into what we can expect in the future, and what policies and procedures should be adopted by the church at large as we approach more potential church sales. Church properties can be challenging to sell, and we are in a unique position in the PC(USA) to help congregations and Mid-Councils maximize use of these significant assets to further the mission of Christ at home and even around the world.

As we look down the road ahead, these are just a few of the important ways that the Foundation’s staff and Board are checking in with the Church. We’re asking where are we now? Where are we going? And what’s the best strategy for best achieving what Christ intended for us here on Earth?

We remain grateful for the many ways in which you have supported the work of the Foundation and the PC(USA) in your life as a leader in the church.

Thanks for your ongoing faithfulness, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

In Christ’s service,

Rev. Tom Taylor, J.D., Ph.D.
President and CEO