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raise as soon as practicable an Endowment Fund of not less than $2,000,000, the income to be applied toward the 80% apportioned to the Churches."
When the members of the Board of Ministerial Relief met in November, following the adjournment of the National Council, for organization, it took up with serious purpose these instructions of the Council. On legal advice, it was deemed inexpedient to organize the Annuity Plan as a department of the Board of Relief. It was a question whether the charter of that Board was sufficiently comprehensive to cover an Annuity Department. As the Legislature of Connecticut meets biennially and would not be in session again until January, 1915, the Board was confronted with the necessity of delaying action or of making an effort to secure a special charter in some other State. To have postponed all efforts in behalf of the Annuity Plan for nearly two years would have brought us to this Council without having done the first things which the Council instructed the Board to do. It seemed best, therefore, to secure a charter in another State. After looking into the matter in the States of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it was decided to apply for a charter in the State of New Jersey, under an act of the Legislature approved April 21, 1898, “To incorporate associations not for pecuniary profit." A certificate of incorporation was granted and signed by the Secretary of State on April 23, 1914. The name given to the new corporation was “The Annuity Fund for Congregational Ministers,” and it was authorized to carry forward its work "for beneficial and protective purposes to its members from funds collected therein, by providing and paying old age or disability annuities to its members, who must be ministers of the “Congregational Churches in the United States of America, and by providing and paying funds to the widows of any of them and in the event of her death by paying benefits to minor children." It was further provided that this corporation “shall be maintained by rates, dues, contributions, by gift, bequest or devise, in accordance with the rules and by-laws that may be adopted by the corporation.” It was provided that
the “business of the corporation shall be managed by a Board of Trustees consisting of nine members, in ecclesiastical relationship with the Congregational Churches, a majority of whom shall be residents of New Jersey and that they must be chosen from names of eligible persons presented to and approved by the National Council of the Congregational Churches of the United States and that such Trustees may be either clergymen or laymen.” The following gentlemen were elected Trustees under the conditions of the charter:
REV. SAMUEL LANE LOOMIS REV. HENRY A. STIMSON
ADDISON H. HAZELTINE ESQ.
It will be observed that all these gentlemen were members of the Board of Ministerial Relief as appointed by the National Council, or who had been elected by the Board itself to fill vacancies in its membership. After this certificate of incorporation was granted the Board of Trustees met and organized by the election of the Rev. Henry A. Stimson as President, Mr. H. Clark Ford, Vice-President, Mr. B. H. Fancher, Treasurer, and Mr. Addison H. Hazeltine, Recording Secretary. By-laws and rules were adopted and at a subsequent meeting held on May 5, 1915, Rev. William A. Rice was elected Corresponding Secretary.
Steps were taken at once to carry forward the work of the Fund. The Board had been instructed by the Council to inaugurate and establish this enterprise, but no funds were provided for the large initial expenses which would be required. Therefore an effort was made to secure subscriptions from friends of the movement to cover these initial and supporting expenses. Subscriptions for several thousand dollars were obtained to be paid prior to the meeting of the present Council. Earnest efforts were also made to obtain members, and the first certificate of membership was issued under date of May 7, 1915.
The Treasurer's report to be presented to this Council, will show what has been accomplished to July 31, 1915. In reading that report it should be remembered that the Fund was not in effective force until the 7th of May, 1915, when the first certificate was issued.
The Board of Trustees is encouraged not only by what has been accomplished in so short a time, but also by the prospects for the growth and extension of the Fund. It has had the experiences which mark the beginnings of most worthwhile enterprises. At first small results, slow progress, difficulties, criticisms and objections, but in time all these subside and more rapid progress is made. This movement has been passing through the first of these stages and we believe is at the threshold of the succeeding ones, which means large success.
About 260 members have been secured, with the written .expression of purpose on the part of many more to enter the Fund at an early date. About $31,000 has been paid into the Fund by the members and these payments have been invested and the entire interest so far received has been added to the membership fund. These funds have not been depleted to the amount of a single penny, for the promotion of the work. It is true that the rates for membership were computed to provide a small percentage for expenses, but it has been the purpose of the Trustees, particularly in the earlier years of the Fund, to provide the expenses from other sources than the payments of the members. Consequently there has been secured by special gifts, donations and subscriptions over $10,000, applicable first to the establishment and promotion of the Fund, excepting, of course, special subscriptions designated for the Endowment Fund.
It has not yet been possible, for obvious reasons, to effectively carry out the Council's instructions to obtain an Endowment Fund of $2,000,000, the income to be applied toward the 80% which the Churches are to contribute. The Board has under consideration methods for gathering this fund which it hopes to begin as soon as possible after the adjournment of this Council. We shall be greatly disappointed if by the next Council we shall have failed to secure funds sufficient to at least double the value of all membership certificates. In the outlook for this work, the Board is encouraged by the hearty approval of the plan given so generally by the laymen as well as by the ministers.
In the nature of the case, this plan cannot provide for the ministers who are already too old to be eligible for membership. It is also true that for those who are near the line where eligibility ceases, the cost is high. It will be necessary for the Board of Ministerial Relief for years to come to prosecute with the greatest efficiency its work in behalf of those who cannot become members of the Annuity Fund. At the same time it is the aim of the Annuity Fund to relieve the burden of our ministry in the time of old age through the coming years. The rates of membership for ministers who are under 50 are reasonably low, and for our younger ministers, who at the time of their ordination ought to become members of this Fund, they are extremely low. We are confident that when once we can say to the denomination, we have an Endowment Fund of $2,000,000, or even half of it, and a generous annual contribution from our Churches, there will be no difficulty in bringing our younger ministers into membership in this Fund.
It is evident, therefore, that as the years pass on, the Annuity Plan will appeal more and more to the self-respect and fidelity of our ministers. When that time comes the problem of the minister in the time of old age will be substantially settled.
There lies before me, just received, a letter from one of our ministers who has occupied several of the best pulpits in the denomination, in which he says: “The Annuity Fund provides for a thrift that is sanctioned, protected and fostered by the Churches and is adapted to the peculiar needs of the minister so that the thrift reacts upon him to the enjoyment of his soul, without the secularizing through dabbling in business.” It is one of the beautiful things concerning the Annuity Plan that at the very time the minister is making sacrifices and saving out of his far from ample income, enough to meet his membership dues, he can increase his efficiency as a minister of
anger of the Gospel. The plan appeals to his self-respect. It is not a diverting method which calls him from the pursuit of those things which inhere in his vocation. And he has the assurance, in the support which the Churches give to the plan, of their appreciation of the heroic work he is doing for them in the name of the Master.
The effect upon the Churches, upon the laymen, upon the men, women and young people who are helping to establish this fund by their gifts, is also spiritual and uplifting We can conceive of no benevolence more righteous, more stirring of the sympathies and the finest sensibilities of the soul, than that which thus comprehensively grasps
privilege and the obligation of sustaining in efficiency the ministers of our Churches and assuring to them a comfortable and serene old age.