JEFFERSON CITY -- Members of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Edgerton felt called to minister to their community through an activity center. Commitment to building an endowment is making continued ministry possible.
Mt. Zion is the first of five churches to complete the Missouri Baptist Foundation's "Power of 5" partnership to build an endowment for ministry.
Each year, the Foundation has some limited discretionary funds that, with board approval, could be used for grants to specific projects. MBF Western Vice President Brad Dixon pointed out how important he believes it is for churches to establish endowments for ministry.
Funds realized from an endowment can be used for ongoing needs, such as maintenance. Or they can fund mission trips, scholarships or other ministries not included in the church's regular budget.
"An endowment can be established ahead of time for a ministry," explained Stephen Mathis, the Foundation's interim president and executive vice president. "It's a way for members to give one time as a designated gift.
As MBF staffers looked at ways to encourage churches to consider the endowment option, Dixon suggested developing the "Power of 5" program with discretionary funds. Participating congregations committed to establish and grow a permanent endowment for five years. The Foundation manages each endowment, with each church determining how monies earned will be used.
Churches were challenged to grow their new endowments to $5,000 in the first year. The congregation could raise money through a single individual, take up a special offering or shift undesignated funds into the account. Those churches that met the challenge received a matching grant from the Foundation.
A minimum of $10,000 is required for a church to receive earnings, Mathis explained. Churches also have the option to roll earning back into the endowment.
In the program's second phase, participants that grow the endowment to $50,000 in five years are granted an additional $5,000. Mt. Zion reached that milestone in July. "The Edgerton church was the first to take up the offer and the first to reach $50,000," Mathis said.
Although the current cycle is full, Foundation officials are looking at finding funds to offer the "Power of 5" program again. "It's a great way for a church to begin a endowment program," he added.
Mathis pointed out that staffers are available to educate congregations about the purpose of an endowment, what type to establish, how to set it up and how members can include the endowment in their estate plans.
Education is key, he added, partly because endowments are often misunderstood and partly because sometimes they have been at the center of church conflict. "Education helps people understand that an endowment isn't a pot of money open to anyone," he said.
"We do not encourage churches to set up an endowment to underwrite the operating budget. We believe it is the responsibility of those in the church," Mathis said. "Giving to an endowment is above and beyond regular giving."