Converting a windfall – Requests pouring in

Faced with an unexpected gift of $60 million, a small church in southeastern Georgia has decided to give all but a fraction of it away, the Associated Press reported Dec. 11.

Since telephone tycoon Warren Bailey left the bulk of his estate to the church when he died in July, the congregation of St. Mary’s United Methodist Church has struggled with how best to use the windfall.

Fearing the fortune could cheapen their faith, the congregation voted to give all but a fraction of the money away.

Since the decision, the church office has been besieged with calls, letters, emails and faxes requesting cash.

Other churches want help building new sanctuaries, entrepreneurs want investments for their businesses, and one man even has asked the church to help pay his credit card bills.

The church plans to give $16 million in funding to other churches and ministries.

An additional $40 million will go into a foundation managed by a nine-member board, which will award grants to nonprofit groups.

The church plans to hire an investment firm to manage the funds.

St. Mary’s will keep $2.8 million for itself in an endowment fund named for Bailey.

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