From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Christmas in February: St. Marys church makes grants

Date 15 Feb 2001 14:39:16

Feb. 15, 2001  News media contact: Tim Tanton·(615)742-5470·Nashville, Tenn.
NOTE: St. Marys is spelled correctly - no apostrophe.

By Alice M. Smith*

ATLANTA (UMNS) -- A variety of mission agencies and projects - on the
district, conference and international levels - are the recipients of $7
million in grants from St. Marys United Methodist Church in Camden County,
which is sharing the largess it received from the estate of church member
Warren Bailey.

"It's been a lot of fun," the Rev. Derek McAleer said Feb. 13, describing
his day of making phone calls to various agencies alerting them of the
grants coming their way. "Most of these agencies we have been working with
for years. But when you have a lot more money, you're able to do a lot

The same exuberant atmosphere had permeated the meeting of the church's
administrative council the night before as the members approved the
recommendations of the missions committee. "We were applauding and had a
good time," McAleer said. He is pastor of the 352-member church, located in
St. Marys, Ga., on the Florida border.

In January, the church received the first $24 million of an expected $60
million and divided it into four categories: $500,000 for the Magnolia Manor
retirement home being built in St. Marys, a gift Bailey had already
promised; $2.8 million for an endowment fund for the church; $7 million to
the church's missions committee; and $13.6 million to a foundation the
church has established that will probably make its first grants this fall.

The remainder of the estate, which is not expected until next year, will
provide an additional $9 million to the missions committee to disburse and
$27.1 million for the foundation. The only money the church is keeping for
itself is the $2.8 million endowment, which will generate about $100,000 in
income per year -- the amount Bailey had given the church annually the past
several years.

Of the grants St. Marys announced in February, the largest is $2 million to
the South Georgia Annual (regional) Conference's children's home -- $1
million to build a campus in Camden County and $1 million for the
Intergenerational Activity Center in Macon, where the home is headquartered.

"It's an incredible day," said the Rev. Laudis H. "Rick" Lanford, vice
president for development. "The Lord has really blessed us. Words can't
adequately describe what the St. Marys church means to children and families
throughout South Georgia."

In addition to the initial grant for the activity center, St. Mary's has
promised an additional $1 million if the children's home raises that amount
on its own. "If that happens, we will pay for the entire project -- $7
million - in cash," Lanford said. Groundbreaking is expected to take place
this fall.

The center will house a gymnasium and dining hall for use by campus
residents but also will serve as a resource and training center for
churches, the community and child-care professionals.

Wesley Glen Ministries, the South Georgia program for adults with
developmental abilities, will receive $1 million -- half to be used to
construct a building in St. Marys and the other half to pay off the agency's
debt and complete the renovation of the Agape facilities in Macon.

Just two years ago, Wesley Glen was at the point of closing its doors,
having inherited a campus in Macon and a large debt as well. The Rev. James
Cason, pastor of Sandersville United Methodist Church and chairman of the
Wesley Glen board, remembers that a compromise was reached that entailed
closing the Albany homes and office, centralizing operations in Macon,
reducing staff and hiring Kendyl T. Jones as executive director. Within a
relatively short time, Jones was able to balance the budget and secure
accreditation of Wesley Glen by a national accrediting agency.

"What this grant does is get us out of debt, so we can tell potential donors
their gifts (are being used) to provide services for people with mental
disabilities," Cason said.

Other grants benefiting South Georgia agencies are $100,000 for the Golden
Cross Fund, which provides medical services for people in need; $192,000 for
Vashti, a residential facility serving emotionally disturbed youth; and
$500,000 for the Magnolia Manor in St. Marys, which is in addition to the
$500,000 from the estate.

Several grants will aid evangelism and new church growth in the South
Georgia Conference: $250,000 to start an office of new church development;
$100,000 for the Kingdom Builder's Club, a longtime South Georgia program
helping churches build new facilities; and $50,000 to help a local church
make a fresh start in the Waycross District, where St. Marys is located.

Another grant along evangelistic lines is $500,000 for the Foundation for
Evangelism to partially endow an evangelism chair at a United Methodist
seminary. The foundation has been working for several years to establish a
chair at each of the denomination's 13 seminaries and currently has funded
five fully and six partially; Emory and Southern Methodist University have
established their own chairs. Former South Georgia Bishop Richard C. Looney
is president of the foundation.

In the mission arena, St. Marys funded several missionaries and programs.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief, the arm of the United Methodist
Board of Global Ministries that responds to natural disasters around the
world, was allocated $250,000, while the Mission Society for United
Methodists, which is not an official church agency, will receive $50,000.
The Missionary Aviation Fellowship, which aids missionaries from many
denominations and has a fleet of 70 planes, was given $250,000. Some $30,000
was set aside to help fund Volunteers in Mission teams from the St. Marys

Support of individual missionaries includes $20,000 for Matt and Joanna
Duddleston, an independent missionary couple working in Russia; $20,000 for
David and Jennifer Thompson, clergy members of the South Georgia Conference
serving in Peru; and $50,000 for Warren and Betty Rasmussen of South
Georgia, a retired couple that makes medical mission trips to Mexico.

The church also is supporting local projects, with $200,000 going to Habitat
for Humanity in Camden County; $150,000 for "Share-A-Meal," which provides
meals for the needy; $71,000 to WECC Radio, a Christian station, to purchase
the needed equipment to convert from a daytime AM to a 24-hour FM operation;
$60,600 to Camden House, a shelter for abused women; and $10,000 to start a
program to help repair homes in Camden County.

Some $350,000 was set aside for a scholarship endowment fund, whereby the
interest would be given away each year in scholarships. Recommendations for
grants to two local Camden County programs were deferred until more
information could be obtained about them.

# # #

*Smith is editor of the Wesleyan Christian Advocate, the newspaper of the
United Methodist Church's North and South Georgia annual conferences.

United Methodist News Service
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