Mathews Family Legacy Supports United Methodist Seminary Students and Beloved Church
One of the greatest joys of working at the Georgia United Methodist Foundation is the opportunity it brings to help people like Bob and Joan Mathews of Dunwoody, Ga. support the ministries they cherish.
In June of 2016, the Mathews established an endowment fund with the GUMF. Each year it will provide a matching United Methodist Dollars for Scholars scholarship to a United Methodist undergraduate or graduate student in Georgia who intends to become a United Methodist pastor.
Not only are the Mathews passionate about education, the GUMF discovered they have also made provisions in their will for Dunwoody UMC where they have been faithful members for over 30 years.
Although Mr. Mathews normally avoids the spotlight, he agreed to this interview in the hopes that this story may inspire at least one family to leave a legacy gift.
GUMF: Our staff was deeply moved by your family’s spirit of generosity. How were these values of generosity developed?
Bob Mathews: The way that Joan and I have always looked at it is the way that the Bible teaches us in Luke 6:36: Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. The same is true with generosity. If we expect people to be generous to us, then as Christians we first have to be generous because all things stem from how we first respond to the opportunities we receive. I think a generous spirit is a reflection of how you relate and connect with the Lord.
GUMF: Why did your family establish this endowment fund with the GUMF?
Mr. Mathews: Joan and I established three different scholarships last year. We liked the idea of giving to someone who is attending seminary and plans to be a preacher. We need to provide support to God’s messengers who are out there encouraging us and emboldening us to stay the course, do the right things, and live in harmony with God. Anything we can do to help make that happen is a good thing. This scholarship is a legacy that will keep on being meaningful as the years go on.
GUMF: Why did your family decide to make provisions in your will for Dunwoody UMC?
Bob Mathews: When we redid our wills about 15 years ago, we decided we would give away a quarter of our assets and potentially more. Of that, 15 percent is going to the Church and Christian nonprofits. The other 10 percent will go towards scholarships where we went to school.
I believe in tithing. I drive a car that is 13 model years old. I practice good stewardship. We try to be a steward of the blessings that God has given us. Therefore, I need to be careful with them. We also feel we need to be generous with everyone who comes into our lives and that certainly includes our children, our church, our colleagues, and our friends.
GUMF: Do you have any recommendations as to how other people could take care of their church in their financial plan?
Bob Mathews: I think we are called to support the ongoing work and ministry of the Church so on an annual basis that ought to be a priority. Then as it relates to end-of-life planning, an individual should have had enough engagement with the Christian institutions that they feel could best use the resources they are going to give to once they are gone. In my mind, it ought to be local and personal to you. People shouldn’t give money to something they are not familiar with.
If they are serious about it [legacy giving] and think that it’s the right thing to do, they need to do it sooner rather than later. Don’t wait because life happens, and all of a sudden you waited too late.
GUMF: How does it make you feel knowing that God’s will is in your will?
Bob Mathews: We are at peace with this decision. I know that we are doing what we are being asked to do. The purpose for being here is to honor and serve the Lord. There is also a huge joy that we get from being generous. Joan and I give, but we do not expect any recognition. Generosity is the right way to live our lives. You can’t take it with you.
This article was originally published in the Summer 2016 edition of Faith & Money, a publication of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.