Foundation helps Baptists invest eternally
Norman Jameson_ь, BR Editor
September 21, 2010

Foundation helps Baptists invest eternally

Foundation helps Baptists invest eternally
Norman Jameson_ь, BR Editor
September 21, 2010

The Baptist Foundation

serves North Carolina Baptists who want to discuss how to leave a legacy for

ensuing generations through Christian estate planning. The Foundation maintains

that everyone should have a will and it encourages every Christian to include

ministry organizations as beneficiaries in that will. With certain estate

planning vehicles, the donor may realize income and tax benefits while he or

she yet lives.

To discuss the possibilities

for your life, contact the Foundation at (800) 521-7334 or through


Founded in 1920, North

Carolina’s Baptist Foundation observes its 90th anniversary this year and

three-fourths of its executive directors are on hand to help celebrate.

The Baptist Foundation, an

agency of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, functioned its first

42 years simply by having its five-member board supervise assets and

investments, which started with a $1,000 gift for Baptist Hospital. That gift

prompted the Convention to create an agency to handle endowment giving, but it

did not employ a fulltime director until Gordon Maddrey was hired in 1962 when

assets had reached $250,000.

Today Clay Warf is only the

fourth executive to oversee Foundation work. Assets under management now total

$128 million and its mission remains unchanged to help Christian stewards

undergird and enable ministry “until Jesus comes.”

North Carolina was the first

Baptist state convention to create a foundation, an idea that originated with

Gilbert Stevenson who was Wachovia Bank’s first trust officer, according to Ed

Coates, who retired as Foundation exec in 1997. Stevenson was a prominent

churchman and lawyer from North Hampton Country.

According to Coates,

Stevenson spoke for two or three successive years at the annual Baptist State

Convention meeting to push the notion that the Convention needed a trust


The first such agency in

Southern Baptist life, Coates said North Carolina’s Foundation is still

considered “a pilot, a key foundation and it is admired for what we do here in

terms of management.”

Area managers

Coates was just the second

executive director, serving for 25 years after succeeding Maddrey in 1972. Upon

retirement in 1997 Coates was succeeded briefly by Scoot Dixon who returned to

Gardner-Webb University after just a year at the helm.

Warf succeeded Dixon and is

the first pastor to claim that seat.

To improve access to key

Foundation personnel, the Baptist Foundation inaugurated the concept of area

managers with Tom Denton operating out of New Bern in the east; Charles Fox in

Winston-Salem and David Webb in Morganton. That move multiplied the face of the

Foundation and puts personal service very near the vast majority of North Carolina


It also cut a lot of miles

off the schedules of Warf and Development Director Bill Overby, who started

with the Foundation in 1991. The Foundation’s current strength “has a lot to do

with the area managers who are out there every day,” Warf said.

BR photo by Norman Jameson

Clay Warf, left, is only the fourth executive director in the 90-year history of the Baptist Foundation of North Carolina. Ed Coates, right was the second. Bill Overby, center, has been on staff since 1991 and is director of development.

He believes people are very

receptive to Foundation representatives because they aren’t selling anything.

“All we’re trying to do is

help them be good stewards and use their God-given assets to support the very

things they’ve loved and supported all their lives,” Warf said.

“No one profits from

anything an individual does in their estate plans,” Overby said. “We are just

there to help.”

The Foundation staff finds

their work “a joy” Warf said because they work daily with “the most generous

people in the world.” Staff gets excited about the generosity of people who are

looking for a way to support the ministries and institutions they love when

they no longer need the resources God has blessed them with in this life.

The Foundation took the lead

36 years ago when it began to sponsor an annual meeting for development

officers of North Carolina Baptist agencies and institutions. Coates came back

from a (now defunct) SBC Stewardship Commission event determined to be as

knowledgeable about trusts and financial instruments as he could and he put

training at the top of his list for all staff members.

For almost four decades the

Foundation has been instrumental in helping other development officers be

knowledgeable as well.

You can start small

People can establish an

endowment at the Baptist Foundation with as little as $100, an amount unheard

of in other foundations, and one that makes no business sense, Overby said.

But it makes the Foundation

accessible to anyone and “makes a lot of friends,” he said. No endowment will

begin to pay out to beneficiaries until it grows to $1,000.

Working with the Baptist

Foundation for estate planning makes sense for many reasons, said Coates,

Overby and Warf while visiting around a conference table in the Foundation

building in Cary. The building was erected on land donated by the Baptist State

Convention, whose staff office building is across the parking lot.

Persons establishing a trust

can typically enjoy capital gains tax savings, secure an income for themselves

and gain favorable income tax treatment. A single trust can support multiple


The purpose of the

Foundation has not changed in 90 years, but laws have changed and new vehicles

that benefit both donors and institutions have arisen.

The Foundation has expanded

into church fund management. Churches with funds beyond what they need for

operating can invest that money with the Foundation and enjoy favorable returns

without the worry and hassle of managing the funds themselves. And the money is

available to the church with 30 days notice.

In longer term investments,

churches are starting endowments with funds designated for missions,

scholarships or the cemetery, etc., Overby said. “The church can control the

investment but they can’t pull the principle back so the next generation can’t

pull the money for a new roof or to pave the parking lot.”

The Foundation cautions new

donors not to be so specific in designating the funds’ use that they will

become impractical in 100 years. With even moderate earnings, an endowment may

grow beyond the vision of its donor and if it is too severely limited earnings

may be restricted beyond being useable.

The Foundation charges a

management fee for the assets in its control.

The fee is one-half percent

for churches, and one percent annually for individual endowments. The

Cooperative Program funds about seven percent of the Foundation’s budget.

You need a will

Fewer than one-third of

persons have a will that directs distribution of their estate upon their death,

Warf said.

That means they are trusting

the state to know and carry out their wishes, which is impossible. Warf

encourages every Christian to create a will and to at least tithe his or her

estate to Christian work.

“From a Christian

perspective you haven’t taken care of your family; you’ve given up any

potential opportunity to give to your church or other Christian ministries when

you don’t have a will,” Overby said.

Even churches that are

disbanding have turned to the Foundation to handle their assets and to utilize them

for new work.

In April 2009 the Foundation

launched North Carolina Baptist Financial Services to provide loans to churches

affiliated with the Baptist State Convention.

The Convention made an

initial investment into the loan pool, which was also opened to individuals

purchasing certificates of participation.

With 26 loans approved for

$15.6 million, the new venture has “probably gone better than we could have

anticipated,” Warf said.

While the Foundation is

celebrating its past, Warf is excited because the future holds “so much

potential as more people are taking seriously their estate stewardship


Foundation leaders emphasize

that estate planning is for everyone, not just for those with large assets.


doesn’t matter how much you have, just be a good steward of whatever it is,”

said Overby. “When you bring it all together, it is significant.”

“Imagine the last 20 years

in your church,” Warf said.

“What if all those good

people you knew and loved who have gone on to their reward had left a tithe of

their estate to the church? Where would you be today?

“Think about 20 years from

now. You can do something about that.”