Why people ‘forget’ the church

Published November 1, 2005

Dear editor,

Churches, local and national, possibly receive few bequests not, as your October editorial suggests (Do people simply forget the church?), because their members have not thought about leaving them money, but precisely because they have.

After seven decades of steady churchgoing, I note that more than half the churches I have attended or served as organist have closed their doors even while my eyes stay open. Fortunately, only two of the rest have veered so far from the ways which originally won my respect that I would balk at financing their progress toward Psalm 106: 38.

With the passing of the generations seared by the Great Depression, church finances can easily fall into the control of people who fancy that money exists to be spent and proceed to use up a gift or bequest as fast as they can. But even when a bequest is prudently invested to generate ongoing income, it risks being attached in the wake of an adverse court judgement. We would be wise to investigate ways of tying up capital so that a church gets the benefit, but never control or ownership, of it.

Without such due diligence, the noblest intentions may end up vindicating in Technicolor, Psalm 29: 7 “he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them.”

Hugh McKellar



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