It was lunchtime on Wednesday, May 18, 2016, when I sat in cool red-brick nave of Trinity Episcopal Church in Baytown, Texas. It wasn’t my church, but I found myself desperately in need of a sanctuary—someplace quiet to grieve the United Methodist Church I loved and to pray for its leaders. At the time, I served on the board for Reconciling Ministries in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and we were facing an uphill battle. Again. It was General Conference—the every-four-year meeting to set the governance of the global Church, and we were in trouble. Conservative factions had managed to pass bills that took the Church back 70+ years to a time before women’s rights. It wasn’t just about the gays this time; the Church was after women. Only a few months into the discernment process, I felt something inside me break that day. I still felt called to ministry, but I knew it could no longer be in the UMC. I remember saying that, even if the Church did want me, I no longer wanted it back.
An endowment is a powerful tool for churches to use to achieve long-term financial stability. An endowment is money designated for the long term to serve both current and future needs. A portion of the endowment can be used each year to support the church’s mission while the remaining amount helps ensure its long-term sustainability. In this post, we will discuss three critical aspects of structuring an effective endowment fund: organizing, investing, and growing.
Organizing the Endowment
If you're thinking of setting up an endowment fund or revising an existing one, here are some basic principles you should consider:
My name is Westley Art Hodges, my pronouns are he/they, and I am the Director of Music Ministries at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Evanston, IL. I am honored to be asked to share my experience as a queer person in our church.
I found the Episcopal Church when I was 22. I found the Episcopal Church out of desperation, which with queer folx, seems to be a common theme. My 22nd year of life was a big year for me and my identity, or should I say—owning my identity. In June of 2007, I had just been fired from my third position as Director of Music in a Baptist Church in South Mississippi. Now I have your attention!
Welcome to ECF’s curated collection of LGBTQ+ resources. At ECF, we are guided by a commitment to love and justice, seeking to create an inclusive space where all voices are heard and celebrated. Our hope is that these resources and the ideas they spark help us embark on a journey of understanding inclusion and acceptance through Christ’s eyes, honoring the sacred worth of every individual.
Note: We will update this list as new resources are made available. If you have a relevant resource to share, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I. LGBTQ+ Resources at The Episcopal Church and Dioceses
LGBTQ+ and the Church: The Episcopal Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ inclusivity and resources, such as:History Organizations
LGBTQ+ Pride Issue of Vestry Papers by the Episcopal Church Foundation:ECF’s first celebration of Episcopal LGBTQ+ laity and ministry
Anyone involved in ministry, either as clergy or as a dedicated lay volunteer, knows that work in the church can inexplicably be joy-filled and spiritual yet exhausting and overwhelming - all in the same breath. We often experience work like Jesus’s parable of the Sower (Luke 8, Matthew 13). Some of our work is fruitful right away but dies quickly. Other work gets trampled on or eaten by birds…proverbially. Other work still falls on deaf ears or dies in committee. But, real growth happens in the darkness and stillness of night, when the good seed, planted in ripe soil, has a chance to take root and grow, to absorb water and nutrients and, when the time is right, break out into the sunlight.
I had the privilege of participating in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land sponsored by St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York City – May 17 – 27, 2023. I also had the pleasure of sharing this powerful experience with my son David who is the rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, TX. There were 24 of us on this trip led by Bishop Dean Wolfe, Rector of St. Bart’s and our local tour guides, Canon Iyad Qumri and Rami Qumri. Iyad and Rami are Palestinian Christians with an extensive background and knowledge about the history, culture, geography, architecture, and politics of one of the most sacred and volatile places on earth. In addition to their knowledge and experience, Iyad and Rami also shared their personal stories and struggles of what it means to be Palestinian living in the modern state of Israel. We learned that the number of Christians in the Holy Land has declined precipitously over the last several years representing only about 2 percent of the total population. Many Palestinian Christians have left the area because of the political turmoil and the unrelenting restrictions on their personal liberties.
The work of Racial Justice and Reconciliation is hard but necessary for us to, indeed, be a beloved community.
As Christians, we believe that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus came down to earth and reaffirmed that fact with his message of love. This message was so powerful that he even got in trouble with many of the leaders of his day. When asked what the greatest commandment is, he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)
Yet, we still have division and hatred in our world. So why is it so hard to love one another?
El trabajo de la Justicia Racial y la Reconciliación es arduo pero necesario para que realmente seamos una comunidad amada.
Como cristianos, creemos que todos hemos sido creados a imagen y semejanza de Dios. Jesús bajó a la tierra y reafirmó ese hecho con su mensaje de amor. Este mensaje era tan poderoso que incluso se metió en problemas con muchos de los líderes de su época. Cuando le preguntaron cuál era el mandamiento principal, respondió: "—“Ama al Señor tu Dios con todo tu corazón, con toda tu alma y con toda tu mente.” Éste es el más importante y el primero de los mandamientos. Pero hay un segundo, parecido a éste; dice: “Ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.” En estos dos mandamientos se basan toda la ley y los profetas". (Mateo 22: 36-40 DHH)
Sin embargo, todavía tenemos división y odio en nuestro mundo. Entonces, ¿por qué es tan difícil amarnos los unos a los otros?
I was recently asked, “Are you fully out in the church?” This prompted me to recall the series of church events, which thrust my coming-out experiences.
Coming out is an everyday experience in the world and in the church. I came out in my early 40s in response to a call for an LGBT (we didn’t have the “Q” yet) ministry in my first parish, Grace Church Van Vorst (GCVV) in Jersey City. It was 1998 and the Rector issued an invitation to the lay leaders of our congregation to initiate outreach to the LGBT community. He added, “it would be wonderful if that person is also a member of the LGBT community.” I got up and without missing a beat said, “I am, and I will do it.” All jaw bones dropped and the rest is history.
Hace poco me preguntaron: "¿Has salido tu totalmente del armario en la iglesia?". Esto me llevó a recordar la serie de acontecimientos en la iglesia que impulsaron mis experiencias de salida del armario.
Salir del armario es una experiencia cotidiana en el mundo y en la iglesia. Salí del armario a los 40 años de edad en respuesta a un llamado para desarrollar y establecer un ministerio LGBT (todavía no teníamos la "Q") en mi primera parroquia, Grace Church Van Vorst (GCVV) en Jersey City. En 1998 el rector invitó a los líderes laicos de nuestra feligresía para que iniciaramos un alcance a la comunidad LGBT. Dijo además: "sería maravilloso que esa persona fuera también miembro de la comunidad LGBT". Me levanté y sin perder un segundo dije: "Yo lo soy y yo lo haré". Todos se quedaron boquiabiertos y el resto es historia.
More than 15 years ago when my mom passed away, I started a small endowment to fund the upkeep of her plot. This endowment is invested for the long-term to preserve its purchasing power and provide a stable income stream that will ensure my mom’s grave is well taken care of in my lifetime, in her grandchildren’s lifetime, and even beyond. Knowing this brings me great comfort each and every night before I go to sleep.
Church endowment funds serve an endless number of purposes. But they all have one thing in common, they all carry the same objective – to provide a stable funding source while also preserving future purchasing power. And they should be invested for the long-term in a fashion that matches this goal. To achieve this, ECF’s investment manager, State Street Global Advisors, uses an investment approach with three equally important building blocks, Strategic Asset Allocation, Tactical Asset Allocation, and Active Management.
We all know how hard it can be to say goodbye. I remember a time when our three grandkids and their families were all together. It was a pretty big deal, since we live in different states. When the time came to leave, the youngest one had disappeared. We found him hiding in the back yard—he just couldn’t bear to say goodbye to his cousins.
Jesus had a hard time saying goodbye on the last evening he spent with his dearest friends. He surprised them by washing their feet, and then they shared a leisurely meal. Afterwards, Jesus told them the sad truth: “Little children, I am with you only a little longer.” (John 13:33) As a parting gift, he gave them a New Commandment: to love each other. “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
A new energy is springing up in churches looking to inspire new gifts to endowment. We’ve recently talked to several churches who are making plans for an endowment campaign, whether to grow an existing endowment or start a new one. While there are several steps to success, in this blog post we’ll focus on one: engaging parishioners by telling the impact story of your church so far and linking that to a future vision.
Why is this important? We know that many donors today give not out of habit or convention, out of duty or obligation, but because they see that gifts are used in a way that makes a difference. Coupled with this, while all fundraising is fundamentally a future-oriented activity, endowment fundraising asks your members to think about the long-term future. Why sustain the mission and ministry of your church into the future? How do you envision growing the impact your church has already made into the future?