The vision for a United Methodist Foundation in the AWF Conference started among a group of dedicated United Methodist men and women under the leadership of Bishop Carl Sanders. The dream was for an agency that would bridge the gap between the mission and financial needs of the church both presently and into the future. January 11, 1979, this dream for a Foundation became a reality, and the Alabama-West Florida United Methodist Foundation was born. Passionate about the Foundation and its ministry, the founding members each pledged to give $5,000 in seed money over the course of 5 years to help start its work.
With a board of directors, leadership in place, and assets totaling $184,353, the first Foundation office was opened in downtown Dothan, Alabama June of 1979. The board of directors and staff worked tirelessly to spread the word about the Foundation, and as a testament to its success James Y. Carroll, referring to the 1980 financial report, stated: “great things have been happening, but this is only the beginning.” By 1981 the Foundation already had deposits from twenty-nine churches, two districts, and several AWF Conference agencies totaling $772,000.
Before 1991 the Foundation had met its goals to raise $10 million in assets, be one of the few self-sustaining Foundations in the country, and was ranked in the top 20% of all United Methodist Foundations in terms of assets under management.
Word about the Foundation continued to spread, and its services continued to evolve to include the creation of printed resources for churches on financial and estate planning (2002), the creation of a Foundation website (2003), and the addition of the charitable gift annuity as a new way for donors to give (2006).
Under the leadership of the founding board of directors, the Foundation flourished. Since 1979 directors have followed in the footsteps of the founding members with their dedication and passion for the Foundation’s ministry. The work of the Foundation truly is “a ministry of generosity,” and we owe a debt of gratitude to all who have had a hand in the Foundation’s work (Aubrey Stabler, President 2015-2017).
Through the years the mission of the Foundation has remained the same, but our services have grown and expanded to better serve our Conference. We now cover a variety of financial planning and stewardship areas that include the Planned Giving Program, investment management services, administration services that include digital records for quickly helping our partners, access to online statements, free marketing resources and generosity workshops, scholarship and building funds, and assisting donors and their advisors in completing various types of gifts. These services are effective in providing good management of funds; however, our primary goal is to give you, as leaders in the church, every advantage in growing generous givers.
With the generosity of donors, churches, and agencies, the Foundation is blessed to currently manage over $93 million in assets and has been able to return $85 million back into the AWF Conference since 1979. These funds are helping to support ministry and transform lives in their communities, in the Conference, and beyond.
The ministry, services, and work of the Foundation would not be possible without the support of the AWF Conference, the Foundation board of directors, donors, pastors, professional advisors, and the churches and agencies within the AWF Conference. We are grateful for the vision and commitment of our board of directors, past and present, and look forward to what God will do through the Foundation in the years to come. Thank you!