Ben Hill UMC Hosts Wills and Beneficiary Workshop


The Ben Hill UMC Legacy Endowment Giving (LEG) Ministry kicked off the New Year by hosting a Georgia United Methodist Foundation-led Wills and Beneficiary Workshop for its members and friends in the Atlanta community. Experts estimate that over 70 percent of Americans do not have a valid will when they die. Of those who do, very few remember their church in their will. Read on to discover how Ben Hill UMC hopes to change that surprising statistic.

The Wills and Beneficiary Workshop is a perfect example of how Ben Hill UMC Pastor the Rev. Dr. Byron E. Thomas takes a holistic approach to ministry. “There is no aspect of a person’s life to which the Gospel does not pertain, so it is our responsibility to ensure we address every dimension and bring what we believe to be a unique perspective of the Christian faith to their living. We have a number of people in the Church who are aging. They have a deep love for Ben Hill and have labored on its behalf for many years. Through this workshop, they have learned about the opportunity to help sustain the long-term ministry of Ben Hill after they are gone, as well as the numerous ways in which they can leave a legacy gift to the Church if they so desire,” Thomas says. “We turned to the GUMF for help because they equipped and empowered our leadership in establishing the LEG Ministry at Ben Hill. They have a proven track record within the Methodist family, and we feel that our interests are best looked out for when we partner with an existing entity within our denomination.”

“We wanted to educate our members on the importance of leaving a will, creating a legacy plan, preparing healthcare documents, appointing a power of attorney, and naming beneficiaries on their checking accounts and retirement funds before they transition. We never know when God is going to call us home. Families will be going through the grieving process, and the fewer decisions they have to make at this time, the easier it will be,” says Ernestine Garey, Ben Hill UMC LEG Ministry Chair. “We also wanted to emphasize the importance of building a legacy for the Church. We now have a repository for members who want to show their gratefulness to God and their love for Ben Hill by giving above and beyond their regular tithe today or by leaving a legacy gift in the future. These gifts will create a permanent source of income because we only use the earnings off the principal endowment for projects. If we want our children, our grandchildren, and our great grand-children to benefit from all that the Church has to offer, and if we want the Church to continue to be a leader in the community, then we need to remember Ben Hill in our final giving.”

Member Jessica Godfrey makes monthly financial gifts to the Ben Hill UMC LEG Ministry. "I want new members to experience God’s love and the excitement of connecting and serving with a community of believers. My legacy gifts will ensure that Ben Hill has the funds necessary to support ministries, outreach opportunities and new programs. I believe God has entrusted Ben Hill to our care and that we are to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us,” Godfrey says. “To be the Church God’s calls us to be, we should consider legacy giving as part of our stewardship obligation, so that we will have the resources to provide for those who are in need, whether they are hungry, imprisoned, or need clothes or provisions to fight for justice. In the years to come, I want Ben Hill to continue to be a place for those needing renewal through worship, the preached word, song, and dance and to be the answer for those who are lost or seeking.”

The Georgia United Methodist Foundation offers the following resources for developing legacy giving strategies that benefit families, as well as United Methodist churches and ministries.

  1. Legacy Ministry Training promotes the establishment of church endowments and customized legacy giving programs.
  2. Wills Clinic for Churches assists members in preparing their will and other healthcare documents.
  3. Free Consulting for United Methodists discusses charitable gift ideas such as charitable funds, donor advised funds, life income gifts, and legacy giving strategies.
  4. Online Wills Guide makes it easy to create your plan. Click here to get started.

This information is offered as an educational service only and is not intended as tax, legal or financial advice. Consult your attorney for legal advice or your personal financial advisor for information specific to your situation.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2017 edition of Faith & Money, a publication of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.