The Generosity Committee presented the following update to the Congregation Council at their August 11 meeting. Pastor Peter provided this summary and recommendation:
The committee is suspending its work.
In light of the understandable current challenges to being a community united in mission, the Committee does not feel the congregation has been able to adequately participate in the discernment process for determining the use of the remaining $445K of the Diestler Estate Gift. Anticipating that the committee’s charge will expire before the return of opportunities for the congregation to engage this work in person, the Committee is suspending its work. Most of the members of the committee have expressed an interest in providing leadership to whatever process may be deemed appropriate at such a time as the congregation is able to reengage.
My recommendation will be for the council to make a determination at its September meeting as to how to proceed, in particular as it relates to the outstanding proposal requests and to update the congregation in the meantime with this process.
UPDATE from the Generosity Committee – August 4, 2020
The Generosity Committee of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church was created in January 2019 for one year and renewed for an additional year of service in December 2019, nonrenewable after December 2020. At the time of renewal, the committee members thought we would be able to finish the work and send recommendations on how to use the investment assets received and created from the estate of Rose Diestler.
However, at this time, August 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an inability to have group discussions with the membership of the whole church, the committee has decided that we do not have enough information and do not see how we can obtain more information before December 2020 to make an informed recommendation to the Council beyond what we have already presented in previous recommendations.
So, we are suggesting the Church Council reevaluate the process by which the Council and thus congregation gathers information and makes decisions on the remaining investments.
Since the committee received its charge, we have cleared the contents of Rose’s home with the Youth program providing the workers and benefiting from the sale revenue. The committee also developed the process for the sale of her house and her car. The revenue from these sales were deposited in the church’s investment account for her estate gift. We also recommended to the Council that $76,205 (10% of the gift) be gifted equally to Lutheran Disaster Response and Keystone Community Services and $200,000 be set aside for a 4-1 matching program for the church’s Enduring Gifts Fund. We also used $15,000 for the Love Let Go event in January 2020 when attendees were given $100 and asked to use it as God called them to and to share their experience. These recommendations, gifts and events left $485,850 (at that time) for further discernment.
The Generosity Committee set up a grant proposal process for members to propose ways and charities for the remaining funds. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many plans including our proposal generation and review process. We were unable to hold face-to-face discussions to generate, support and formulate ideas for proposals. We did receive proposals that totaled more than was available. We organized online discussions on the proposals and a survey for congregational members to comment on and make recommendations on funding levels for each proposal. However, not many surveys were completed.
Due the recent events and concerns, the committee recommended to Council that the church make partial distributions of the funds to some agencies and groups that could provide immediate help to local people. These groups included Lutheran Social Service for their family assistance programs, Second Harvest Heartland for their food programs, Wapogasset Bible Camp for general support, St. Paul School’s Raising a Reader Program for early childhood education, Soup 4 You! for a daily meal distribution program, and funding a matching campaign a Matoska Elementary School supporting H2O for Life.
The committee received only 14 surveys from church members. (The six committee members did not complete the survey.) A summary of the allocation percentages recommended in the surveys [was provided to the council]. Besides being few in number, these surveys do not indicate clear preferences between the proposals.
As a result of the disruption in discussions and the low number of survey responses, the Generosity Committee has concluded that we do not have enough information to make an informed recommendation on how to responsibly use the remaining funds of about $445,000. In light of current challenges, we do not see a path to improve our discussions with congregational members before December, when our charge ends.
Thus, the committee suggests the Council revaluate the process for making decisions on the use of the remaining funds.