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by James G. Richards

´┐╝The unexaggerated truth about national stewardship’s will writing ministry is that it significantly increases the chances of the local church receiving funds from estates in the future.
Without wanting to drown you in a sea of statistics, here are some important numbers coming out of the National Stewardship Department that I believe can be a significant source of future blessing to your church.

In 2009, 933 wills were written in PAOC churches across Canada by the National Stewardship Department. Out of this number of wills, 603 (or 65 per cent) left a portion of the estate to charity. Of these charitable wills, 75 per cent left a contribution to the local church. As you read this, you are asking a good question: “What was the dollar value of the contributions to the local church in these 603 wills?” The answer is: $12,020,532 was designated to PAOC churches across Canada just last year.

To put these statistics in perspective, it is unlikely that many of these churches will receive these funds this year, or even next year. It is true that the people writing these wills are free to make changes to their wills at any time until they pass away. It is, however, also true that if no one from a church today is writing a will with the local church as a beneficiary, then that church is going to receive no funds from wills in the future. The unexaggerated truth about national stewardship’s will writing ministry is that it significantly increases the chances of the local church receiving funds from estates in the future. Is that basic truth not a worthwhile incentive for your church to be involved in the ministry of national stewardship today?

How does the national stewardship program work in our churches? There are two ways the program can be accessed. The first is through the ministry of Clarence Mitchell, who last year conducted seminars in 33 churches across Canada. The second is through the ministry of district stewardship representatives working on behalf of PAOC national stewardship in the BC/Yukon, Alberta/NWT and Eastern Ontario Districts. The plan is to expand this network of stewardship representatives to all the districts.

The national stewardship ministry in our churches involves three dimensions. First, the representative preaches in the Sunday morning service on the topic of biblical principles concerning finance and money. Then a 90-minute “Building Financial Security“ seminar is conducted on Sunday evening, offering topics such as budgeting, taxes, RRSPs and estate planning. The tax advantages of leaving a portion of an estate to charity are also discussed. In the Sunday evening seminar, the attendees have an opportunity to sign up for a free, personal one-hour will consultation at the church that week. There is obviously a significant saving to the individuals who take advantage of this service. In this consultation, there is no pressure to leave a portion of an estate to charity, although the option is given. The completed wills are then taken by the stewardship representative to be notarized; the original is sent back to the individual, and a copy is kept on file with national stewardship at the PAOC International Office.

A final and important question is: “What does all of this cost the local church?” PAOC national stewardship pays all costs for salaries and travel. The only cost incurred by the local church is accommodation and meals for the days when the stewardship representative ministers in that church.

This article is titled “A Wealth of Blessing for the Local Church.” After reading it, I hope you can see why this title was used. The only question is whether or not your church is benefiting from this blessing. In order to receive this blessing in your church, I encourage you to call national stewardship at the PAOC International Office.
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JAMES G. RICHARDS is the national stewardship director
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