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The Next 100 Years

As we approach our Tricentennial next year, we do not merely want to look back, but forward as well. In that spirit, the Tricentennial Committee, in conjunction with the RCUS Finance and Endowment committees, have launched Mission 2025. The purpose of this new initiative is to focus our attention on the future, the next 100 years, if you will.

Synod has commissioned our brother Rich Carroll to visit each of our churches and to present ways in which each of us can help grow the church, as well as to fund our missions, acts of mercy, and benevolences to our retired ministers and widows. When he comes to your church, attend and learn about ways to give through tax-advantaged programs.

The RCUS once had a reputation for planned future giving, an emphasis on creating an ongoing legacy to ensure that there would be a faithful, confessional Reformed Church for generations to come. Our Church had a nurse’s training institute called “Phoebe House.” Rev. Emmanuel Boehringer founded “Shepherd of the Lambs” orphanage which cared for the orphans of Civil War soldiers (“Shepherd of the Lambs” would be renamed Bethany Children’s Home). A Christian school founded by RCUS missionaries in Sendai, Japan still exists today. RCUS missionaries were among the first to plant churches in Iraq. RCUS men whose families remain a part of our churches to this day, devoted their lives to evangelizing among Native American tribes.

We were a giving church. Sadly, much of that spirit was lost during the turmoil of the 1930’s. Pastors followed their pensions into a liberal church merger. A 1942 photo of the Eureka Classis shows only two pastors present, surrounded by a sea of elders, who kept our churches going through the Depression and after. Our vision became myopic, concerned with survival, not growth. Eventually, God would send us faithful men to fill our pulpits. Mission works would be launched at home and abroad. We carefully examined seminaries and chose to support those that were truly confessionally Reformed.

Intent on not repeating the mistake of tying pastors to a denominational pension fund, our churches elected to allocate benevolent aid annually at synod to those in need. This system eventually became the RCUS Endowment Fund, broadened to include not only care for our retired pastors and widows, but also missions, faithful seminaries, and acts of mercy.

We are on the move again, and by God’s good pleasure, and the support of our people, the Endowment Fund is growing. While we are thankful for that, we still need two million dollars to meet our minimum commitments. That may sound like a lot, but nearly a million dollars has already been pledged through Qualified Charitable IRA distributions, wills and bequests, and gifts. Most of these pledges involve estate planning, and do not impact current family income.

Over time, the Endowment Fund investments produce 7% income, and dispenses 4% of the principal annually to fund missions, and the various benevolences of the church. In other words, a gift to the Endowment continues to grow every year, in perpetuity (humanly speaking).

If we truly want to leave a Reformed legacy for our children, there is no better way to do that than including God’s kingdom work in your will. In looking at old German Reformed wills from the Colonial era, we can see how important the church was to our forefathers. Again and again, I read wills that began “I, _______, a member of the Reformed Church, resting in the certain hope of the Resurrection, do hereby….” When my wife and I did our estate plan last year, we had the attorney insert that into both of our wills. It’s not just a will, it’s a will and testament. What better way to give a lasting testimony to your heirs?

Mission 2025 – prayerfully consider what role the Lord would have you play in extending the mission of our Church into the next century.

 Wayne Johnson
Sacramento, CA

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