“Man Plans and God Laughs”
I write this column hesitantly keeping in mind the above quote. I know no matter how much we plan, things can happen which force us to reevaluate or cancel our plans. No matter how well intentioned we are, failure is always within grasp. We simply cannot know enough to ensure success on our own.
To truly succeed, our plans at the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation must be God’s plan for the Foundation and for the church. When we look at things this way planning becomes a process of discernment. It is also an act of humility in acknowledging that we are merely instruments for discerning and accomplishing God’s Will. Discernment is not static. It is a process. Plans change over time as God’s Will is revealed.
The process of discernment occurs through the work of the staff, Board of Directors and Committees of the Oklahoma Disciples Foundation. That process has many aspects but it always begins with prayer. We pray for guidance. Prayer centers us. Prayer helps us to be patient. Prayer allows us to align ourselves with and commit ourselves to God’s plan as it is revealed. Discernment through work and prayer has led to a framework for the present and the future of the Foundation. That framework has five parts.
First, we must grow. It seems a little silly to say this but it is necessary to say it. Institutions just like people are either growing or dying. A goal of staying the same is a goal of dying. Even though growth requires risk and change, it is the only way forward. We must grow our assets, our distributions and grow our ability to deliver resources to the areas of the church where those resources are needed most. To this end, the Foundation holds several endowments which generate funds as directed by a Grant Committee of the Foundation. Over the years, these endowment funds will continue to grow allowing for distribution of more funds by the Grants Committee. Watch here for more exciting news on this new program.
Second, we must expand the areas in which we provide services. This is a matter of preparation. We must be open to new financial methods and vehicles to help the church grow and thrive. We continually strive to be responsive to the needs of the Oklahoma churches. In 2017, we will be introducing new investment products within our Custodial Funds program to allow churches more flexibility and financial resources. We will also be considering new ways for individuals to accomplish their giving objectives. Details will be available in our newsletters and on our website. Or, provide us your email for our weekly email updates.
Third, we must constantly strive to acquire the best returns possible for the Foundation’s managed assets without unnecessary risk. The staff and Board of Directors just finished an extensive process seeking bids for money management team. From eleven very capable bidders, Bank of Oklahoma was selected as our new money manager beginning January 2017. We are excited about the new relationship and look forward to it being beneficial to all.
Fourth, we must control and reduce fees and expenses. We have been actively seeking ways to reduce the administrative fee burden on all of our funds and we will continue that effort with a goal of funding all of the Foundation operations without any burden on the named endowments. We will also be reducing fees on certain custodial funds on a tiered basis. Fees on large custodial fund deposits will reduce to as low as .0015%. Full details of this program are outlined here.
Finally, we will continue to rejoice in gratitude for what God has done and continues to do. Celebrating allows us to share together in all that God has provided. We will continue to celebrate the generosity of those who have been called to support the Christian Church in Oklahoma through endowments. We will also celebrate the Disciples who support the operations of the Foundation. To honor and recognize their commitment, the Foundation has implemented the Chalice Society program. For more details about the Chalice Society, click here.
God bless you in 2017 and may God’s plans guide your generosity throughout the year and years to come
Grace and peace,
Eric S. Gray, Executive Director