The Coker Permanent Endowment Fund- Fitting into Coker’s Future
By: Rick McManus

Maybe that’s the “why”…why does Coker even have an endowment fund. The simple answer is because it fits. For so many generations, Coker served the community around us doing God’s work, and doing it well. Yet throughout all those years, this work was limited by Coker’s budget. Thus our church had to rely on whatever ‘passing the hat’ could raise in order to fund any emerging missions, ministries, and church property needs having no budgeted funds.

Since caring people have always been willing contributors, funds would appear in many of these instances to solve the need of the moment…a new mission trip, an important new education ministry, installing a vital audio system…never an easy task, yet the list seems endless. That said, what if “passing the hat” wasn’t the only alternative to raising money for solving emerging needs? What if a ready source of unbudgeted money could exist that made it easier to say yes to new, special works? What if that ready source continued growing larger with each passing year?
In the 1980’s, some very insightful and caring Coker members planted a seed to make that idea happen. They started a small fund which, after undergoing a number of changes, became the foundation in 2007 of the strong instrument we now call the Coker Permanent Endowment Fund. The Endowment, as we call it, operates with its own governing board totally separate from the church’s budgeting process. This prudent feature ensures the funds are used wisely and further protects the Endowment’s assets from being pulled into the church budget. The Endowment’s role is simple; create grants for unfunded (nonbudgetary) missions, ministries, and Church property needs.

The Endowment does not supplement Coker’s budget; it complements it by fitting in alongside the budget as an alternative source of unbudgeted money. Like all churches, Coker depends on our pledges to build and support its operating budget. Conversely, the Endowment depends totally on donations and their subsequent earnings for creating grants that support new programs Coker’s budget simply can’t afford.

Unlike the church, which must replenish its budget every year, the Endowment is designed to last the life of the church. Since the funds voted annually for grants are drawn from no more than 5% of the principal, the Endowment continues growing…earnings from investments and continuing donations allow this to occur. Thus, as the principal grows and the earnings increase, the amount available for grants also gets larger.

In our Courier article last December, we reported that the Coker Permanent Endowment Fund was strong and growing. That is still true in December of 2019. Since inception in 2007, when the Fund’s grant pool was $5,000 for the year, the available 2019 grant money has risen to over $42,000. So what unbudgeted needs has Coker been able to help solve with Endowment grants this past year?

The first grant approved in 2019 allowed our expanding Youth Program, grades 6 through 12, to relocate to the Coker gym in late Spring. The youth gained significantly more room all in one place, while freeing up badly needed classrooms in the Gibbs Building.

As Colton Willis, Coker’s Director of Family Ministries, said: “Moving all our youth into one building has helped Coker’s student ministry continue growing in their bonds and friendship. The Endowment grant has allowed for converting the gym’s classrooms into comfortable, relaxing fellowship spaces so critical to our student ministries.”

An Endowment grant was approved in April that allowed Coker’s Director of Communications to significantly upgrade our church’s website. The resulting improvements increased the amount of Coker information available to our congregation and the public, while also making it easier to access. Communications Director, Jenn Clauser, shares “Our new church website is now an outreach tool with Google Ad Words embedded into the WordPress platform. It serves as a warm welcome to those who are looking for a Church home. I am thankful to the Endowment Fund for underwriting our new site.”

In June this year, the Fund was once again able to support the Coker Mexico Mission trip led by Pastor David. Doing so gave Coker the necessary time to work this wonderful mission ministry into future budgets. Pastor David Blanco commented, “The outreach committee and I are very appreciative of the endowment fund’s generous grant for our most recent Mexico mission trip. With your contribution, we were able to build a terrace roof for Misión Juan Wesley in La Joya which will enable them to host larger groups for various ministry and outreach events, while protected from the sun, rain, etc. With the help of the endowment fund’s contribution, we were also able to fund the assembly of about 100 care kits for the Apaxco migrant ministry. These care kits are handed out to migrants who either are passing by, or as they leave the next day after a night’s rest. While at Apaxco, we were also able to help finish their new restroom’s outer wood partition as well as build a garden bed. God has called us to reach out and minister to the least, the last, and the lost. One way we do that here at Coker is through our Mexico mission trip, and we are thankful for partners like Coker’s endowment fund.”

This Fall the Fund supported a vital outreach ministry; we approved funds to assist Project Transformation in creating long-term housing for its summer interns and other people visiting San Antonio conducting ministry work in our community and churches. This vital work directly impacts service to children in families living in our lowest socio-economic neighborhoods, develops principled Christian leaders through our college interns, and focuses on renewing congregations in struggling churches.

“Kercida McClain, executive director of PT says: “The Coker Permanent Endowment Fund continues reaching beyond its walls helping change the world around us. We are so grateful for the continued support from Coker and its Endowment as we impact the lives of children, college students, and churches in our area. Your support makes our work possible.”

The seed planted so many decades ago by some wise Coker visionaries is quickly becoming a majestic oak…long may it assist God’s work around our community.

Perhaps it is in your heart to contribute to the Coker Permanent Endowment Fund. If you do, it will be a donation that will never stop giving. Your funds will remain in the Endowment, growing with the principal as its annual earnings participate in contributing to all future grants. Gifts of any amount are welcome and can be made directly to the church by such means as cash, stock, bequests from your will, and even life insurance. When you send your gift be sure to specify that it is for the Coker Permanent Endowment fund so it is allocated to the correct account. Often used for donating is what is known as a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA; you avoid paying taxes on the distribution. For those of us older that 70 ½ and eligible for minimum required distributions (MRD), consider contributing a portion directly to Coker UMC. To ensure the donation is nontaxable, designate Coker UMC as the recipient while specifying the donation to the Permanent Endowment Fund.

To envision the tax saving, consider how it works. Up to now, the earnings on your IRA, 401K, etc. have grown tax-deferred. Meanwhile, the IRS has been waiting in the wings to get its fair share; i.e. the deferred tax on the account’s growth. When you withdraw some of those funds, two things occur…the withdrawal will not count as a tax deduction, plus the earnings on the withdrawal are taxed that year. However, should you choose instead to donate the same amount, while still not tax deductible, you now avoid paying tax on the withdrawal. In other words, withdraw to spend, pay the tax. Withdraw to donate, no tax. So would you consider donating a portion of your IRA to the Coker Permanent Endowment Fund as it continues the journey of fitting into Coker’s future?

As another helpful thought, some of our Coker members have found appropriate estate planning allows them higher retirement incomes while also increasing the gifting portion of their estates.

To learn more specifics about how you can help continue growing the Coker Permanent Endowment Fund, you can visit with Pastor Gene Roe, Director of Finance Becky Kirbo, or any member of the CPEF Committee, chaired this year by Rick McManus. The church office number is 210-494-3455.