Monday, October 25, 2010

“‘When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder’
My affairs will be in order”

“George was only 47 on the afternoon he carefully pulled his car off the road, dialed home on his cell phone, and died before initiating the call. It was a severe heart attack. When I, George’s family pastor, sat down with his loved-ones that afternoon, I heard an all-too familiar story. George had never said a word to anyone about his wishes after death. No thoughts of a funeral or financial information of any kind. They had no idea where to start.”
– Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Gallen, family pastor

Helping to Prepare Our Loved-Ones

Certainly, most of us cannot anticipate our deaths. But, we certainly can and should share important end-of-life wishes and financial information with our loved-ones. The fact of the matter is that when we don’t do so, upon our deaths we risk throwing our loved-ones into chaos – when they really need comfort. The Information Checklist on the back of this insert can help you start putting your wishes – including supporting those church ministries that matter most to you – and resources in order. Those who love you will be very grateful when you do.

Information Checklist
To help my loved-ones prepare for my death

· Date and place of birth
· Birth certificate location, number and locale of filing
· Social Security Number or Citizenship papers, and location
· Parents’ names, dates and places of birth, death, and burial
· Passport number, issue date, and location
· Marriage/divorce papers and location
· Names, addresses, and birthdates of children
· Primary care physician’s name and address
· Durable power of attorney for health considerations, and location

· Funeral or memorial service, including any prepaid arrangements
· Church or funeral home
· Cremation or burial
· The service: people to participate; my favorite Scripture and/or other readings; my favorite hymns, songs, and/or other music
· Names and contact information of persons to notify
· Designations for memorial giving, including designee’s address

· Attorney, accountant, and insurance agent contact information
· LOCATION OF WILL and personal representative(s) named therein
· Accident and life insurance policies and carriers
· Pension plans, IRA contracts, or other plans “of value”
· Investment portfolio(s) and broker(s); annuities, CDs, savings bonds, and other cash instruments locations
· Employer benefits coordinator and contact information
· Military service number (if any), discharge date, and benefits
· Location of state and federal income tax filings
· Bank accounts and safe deposit box keys and location; safe combinations; location of vehicle and property titles, property deeds, and mortgage/loan documents; other items of value (e.g., jewelry and artwork), location and disposition
· Trusts and estates created by my will

--adapted from bulletin insert by Dr. Gallen,
Exec. Dir. of Preachers Aid Society

God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer

Monday, October 18, 2010

To give is to Respond Gratefully

My dad would sit down at the kitchen table on Saturday evenings. Write a check. Put it in the envelope. Set it on the corner of the kitchen counter next to his car keys. That’s it. He never said anything to my brother and me about stewardship, about giving to God, about the importance of sharing. He just did it. He never missed. He still does it, every Saturday night. It’s a powerful memory, and it goes on.

I did not inherit my dad’s organizational skills nor, more honestly, his faithfulness. I have been known to search my purse for a pen while the ushers were coming down the aisle, or to fill out my check for the offering while the pastor was recapping the Gospel lesson. If by some chance the plate went by before I finished – more times than I care to admit – that week’s offering never made it anywhere.

But I still remember that envelope sitting by the car keys. And some weeks, I lay my own witness on the kitchen counter for my kids to see. I might even write a bigger check to “catch up.” It’s not a have-to. It’s a want-to – something from my past that allows me to be faithful.

- excerpt by Barbara DeGrote, Wisconsin AC

God is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To give is to Respond Gratefully
A Stewardship Message for your Church

“…they gave themselves first to the Lord.” 2 Cor 8:5b (NRSV)

It’s been over six months since I took the brave step of signing up to have my tithe automatically deposited from my bank account into the church’s account twice a month. We’ve been tithing for years and my husband has had his offerings electronically transferred for a while. But I still liked having control. And I must confess, I liked being able to “flex” my spending especially in the summer.

For several years, our dinner table was crowded with 3, 4, 5 or more of our college-aged kids and their friends, which meant extra groceries. In addition, 75% of the family birthdays fall in the third quarter of the year. I’m not particularly proud of it; but the reality is that I was often “catching up” on my pledge in October and November following the back-to-school crunch. Yet I promote automatic deposit as a means of giving our first fruits! I believe the first check I write should be to give thanks to God for the blessings I’ve received. I preach this too!

So I took the plunge. And that’s how it felt the first time I saw the transaction online mid-January. I don’t know why. But I felt like someone had just flung me out in the middle of a polar bear swim! Months later, instead of gasping for air twice a month, I now take a deep breath and give thanks to God for the blessings I have and the blessings I’m able to share. I see those blessings as children return from church camp this summer with grins from ear to ear. And I see those blessings as the UMCOR reaches out to children in need every time an earthquake, tornado, hurricane, or flood turns their world upside-down.

Are you ready to join me in taking the plunge of automatically saying “thank you” as the first gift you make every month or every pay period? Whether your church has a program or not, I now know I can do it through my online banking or by EFT through the church. God promises to automatically love and care for us winter, summer, spring and fall. Let’s find ways to give our thanks by offering our prayers, presence, GIFTS, service and witness consistently too.

--Rev. Jean Ehnert Nicholas, Wisconsin Ann Conf

God is Still in Control

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer

Monday, October 4, 2010

Planning Your Estate Is a Spiritual Act

We are all called to be “followers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1). You’ve strived to live as a Christian disciple and steward. You’ve used the time, talents, and treasures that God has entrusted to you to help to reveal God’s Kingdom on earth.

As you make financial and estate plans, you can continue to faithfully follow Christ and steward God’s mysteries. Indeed, you can look at planning your estate as a spiritual act – as a time to prayerfully consider how your material gifts should be used (now and after your death) so that they continue to reflect your faith. As you begin to plan your estate, you may wish to use the following steps:

(1) Reflect on the people God has placed in your life. Make a list of family, special friends, and others who have been a blessing to you. Thank God for them!

(2) Reflect upon the organizations God has placed in your life. Make a list of the churches and other organizations that have contributed to a better life for you and others. Thank God for them!

(3) Reflect upon the material gifts that God has entrusted to you. Make a list of the things you own: real estate, stocks and other securities, life insurance, retirement assets, as well as other cherished items. Thank God for them!

(4) Consider the ways in which you would like to match the people and organizations in your life with these material gifts. Who might need continued care? Who might appreciate items of great sentimental value? How might your chosen organizations and ministries use the gifts from your estate to perpetuate your values and hopes?

(5) Consider the people you should consult on the above items. List family members, your pastor, staff of charitable organizations, your financial advisor, and/or your attorney. Discuss with them your desires and intentions. Make sure that your estate plans meet your financial needs while they reflect your spiritual values.
God Bless Your Discernments

--from the Pacific NW AC
God Is Still In Control!
Miss Lladale Carey
Web Producer