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Legacy giving is biblical way to express your thankfulness


Some time ago, my wife, Pam, and I went through a spiritually enriching process in which we were led to ask ourselves this question: "What will we do with what we leave behind?"

Rusty Ellison

Let's get something straight upfront — I'm not dead yet! I am 71 and still lead a full life with regard to work and ministry. I write this column as vice president of development of our Kentucky Baptist Crossings camps that we started 21 years ago. I also serve as transitional pastor at Pleasureville Baptist Church, following the retirement of its beloved pastor, Jerry Anderson. And I'm finishing up my doctoral work over the next few months, so my life is busy. I've not quit, I've not retired! God continues to provide wonderful ministry opportunities to us.

But it's not too busy for Pam and me to determine what we will do in regard to the greatest stewardship decision we will ever make: "What will we do with what we leave behind?" Pam and I both believe that's a significant question many loyal Christ-followers and church members have never considered.

We had remarkable help as we prayerfully contemplated what we would do with our estate, which by many standards is small. We've been in ministry for the last 31 years, so while we've not made a lot of money, God has wonderfully blessed us. Our help in working through this question came from PhilanthroCorp, a ministry partner endorsed by the Kentucky Baptist Convention and Kentucky Baptist Foundation. Our friends at PhilanthroCorp guided us through a very spiritual process of examining our legacy stewardship from a biblical basis.

In the end, Pam and I determined that we would include Crossings in our estate plan. PhilanthroCorp did not tell us where to leave our legacy gifts — they left the beneficiaries entirely up to us.

We have two grown daughters, two godly sons-in-law and six grandchildren. We want to leave our kids a legacy gift, though by today's standards it won't be large. But we included Crossings because we wanted to express our thankfulness and praise to God for the impact our camp ministry has made on more than 163,000 campers since we started 21 years ago. Of those campers, 8,750 have crossed over from death to life (John 5:24, on which we based the name). To God be the glory!

We believe so strongly in what God has done and will continue to do through Crossings that we believed we should leave a gift that would help this ministry upon our passing.

Pam and I urge you to consider our Kentucky Baptist camp ministry in your will and estate plan. We've been hurt greatly by COVID and it will take us some years to recoup our losses. Have you ever thought about leaving a legacy gift to your church as a means of expressing your thankfulness?

As I serve as transitional pastor around the state, we're not in any place very long. But many of you who read this have invested your very lives in your church. You've supported your church with your time, gifts and money! Pastors and churches across the state are becoming more familiar with the Foundation's plan in making available the services of PhilanthroCorp.

Think about it. Pray about it.

Remember Deuteronomy 10:14 which tells us, "To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it." After all, it's His anyway! What will you do with what you leave behind? It's arguably the biggest stewardship decision you will ever make. A legacy gift is a beautiful biblical way of expressing your thankfulness for your church or a ministry like Crossings!

Rusty Ellison is vice president of development for Crossings. He can be reached at rellison@gocrossings.org.

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