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Elder's Corner: Being Mission-Oriented

Posted by Lee Ann Roeder on Oct 10, 2018

From Tim Guedel

I often hear in conversations around Pilgrim that we are a mission-oriented congregation, which I completely agree with. We help missions financially through two programs: Social Ministries and the Benefaction Fund Grants. The latter is my focus today. Also, we do have members who go out in the communities we live in and support programs by volunteering.

What is the Benefaction Fund? This fund was created in the early 1990s after the sale of land north of the old property which turned into the hotel at 103rdand Meridian. The congregation decided to set aside $1 million and invest that money to create a self-sustaining fund, which the interest earned on these monies would be given out to different organizations to assist in their missions.

There are two different committees that keep the Benefaction Fund running. One focuses on the investments of the fund, which I have always called the money side. The other reads all the applications and decides which grants meet the criteria of the fund and to what degree the fund can support each grant application. Both committees follow guidelines which were created at the start of the fund and have been amended through the years.

Throughout the history of the Benefaction Fund, Pilgrim has granted more than $1.5 million to different organizations throughout the world. Some of the organizations are located here in Central Indiana, like the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, Miracle Place, Lutheran Child and Family Services, and, for many years, the Son Seekers Camp at Our Redeemer. These specific programs help the people here in Central Indiana.

Other organizations located throughout the country either help their local communities or aid different parts of the world. For instance, For Haiti with Love is based out of southern Florida but aids in Haiti in the form of building houses for deserving families that help with the construction of their home. To date this partnership has built over 25 homes in Haiti and still counting. Another organization assists with the ministries in Vladivostok, Russia. There is a German pastor who has shepherded the people in Far East Russia for several decades now. The funds of the Benefaction Fund have helped repair and expand the buildings of the church and have provided funds to assist in having week-long camps like our Summer Camps. The Benefaction Fund also has had a long-standing history with organizations in Kenya that have built the infrastructure for caring for the sick and impoverished and have funded many programs based out of their hospital. These are just a few examples of programs that have benefited from this program.

If anyone has questions about the Benefaction Fund or would like to get involved in either committee, let me know. Grant Applications are due every February 15 and must be sponsored by a Pilgrim Member. The funds are sent to the organizations by July of that year, once the Board of Directors and the Congregation approve the recommendation of the Grant Committee. Each organization sends in progress reports of their projects annually.