February 6, 2018

Gifts and Memorials

Gifts and memorials from departed church members are not a popular topic that gets discussed in our congregations. As a society and as individuals we have an aversion to discussing and planning for our own death and those of our loved ones. However, given the demographics of our congregations, much of our clergy’s time is spent doing frequent funerals. Also as individuals we are often unprepared and are making major decisions during our bereavement or illness which is not optimal. Not only do we miss the presence and talents of our departed members but also their financial contributions which helps to maintain the ministry of our churches.

We do need to reintroduce the topic of Gifts and Memorials for the church leadership and congregation, a few ideas to consider include:

  • Scheduling Planned Giving seminars which are very informative and remind us of the practical planning for end of life e.g. Creating a will
  • Reminding the congregation to include donations to the church in their wills
  • Having discussion with funeral homes to ensure that in planning with the families, donations to the church is a part of that conversation
  • Creating a document from the church for the family which includes all the expenses that will be incurred for funerals and also suggesting that a financial donation would be appreciated
  • Publicly acknowledging memorial donations within the church e.g. a wall plaque or listing in the church bulletin
  • Acknowledging memorial donors with written letters of thanks from the church

We need to get comfortable with these end of life conversations. Ultimately the goal is to have Gifts and Memorials become a standard part of our financial planning to ensure the viability and longevity of our ministries within and outside our churches. It is one of the best ways to honor the memory of our departed church members and leave a lasting legacy for the next generation of believers.