Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parish
Regional Leadership Seminar
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
September 20, 2008
The Bedell Committee
St. Matthew’s Church
Giving More Than Just
• What is the Bedell Fund/Committee?
• Why does it exist?
• How has it transformed giving for St. Matthew’s?
• What can you do to help make your church giving more than just a
A look at the history of the Committee
Four distinct phases:
2. Initial years
Who was Hope Bedell?
• A life time resident of Bedford
• A parishioner of St. Matthew’s
• Died 1993
Hope left the bulk of her estate to St. Matthew’s
Why is receiving a large sum of money difficult for a church?
• The desires of the donor need to be satisfied.
• Members of the church have different viewpoints.
• Potential reduction in annual giving due to perceived new found
• Desire to control what gets done with the capital.
How did St. Matthew’s deal with it?
It did what it always does, it formed a committee
• The committee achieved a sense of purpose
• It took a longer-term view
• It focused extensively
• It looked to do something that was out of the ordinary
- Help those who were not being helped
- It looked for groups without many options
Purpose of gifts/grants
The committee spent many months trying to determine the purpose
of the gift, the best way to fulfill Hope Bedell’s wishes.
Result: Charge to the Bedell Committee
The vestry voted on an approved and then implemented
Bedell Fund Committee
Charge and Operating Procedures
Charge to the Committee The Bedell Fund Committee is established to manage the process of
making grants of funds designated annually by the Vestry of St. Matthew’s Church to appropriate
recipients under the will of Hope Bedell. Grants should fall within the following guidelines:
- Most grants should be large grants to aid and promote Episcopal churches and their programs
and clergy in the Diocese of New York, with priority for those in Region II. Grants should be for
one time capital projects and/or seed money. Grants may provide financing of clergy education,
retirement or housing. Grants should not be used for ongoing operating costs.
- Grants to local (non-Episcopal) charitable organizations are also possible where there is a
particular “Christian” aspect to their purpose.
- The Committee should recognize that, from time to time, the Vestry in its discretion, may make
grants to support the St. Matthew’s “family”, including assistance for current or retired staff and
clergy and funding of extraordinary capital projects.
2. Bedell Allocation
3. Grant Approvals
4. Voting. All members have one vote each and all grants to be recommended to the vestry must
have a minimum of five votes.
5. Conflicts. Conflicts of interest, or even the appearance thereof, should be avoided. A
Committee member with a meaningful personal association with an applicant is encouraged to
so declare, present his/her evaluation of the grant application and be excused from final
deliberations and voting on the application. St. Matthew’s parishioners should feel confident in
the objectivity of the Committee’s deliberations.
8. Grant Supervision
9. Committed Funds
First Chair – Caroline Walker – 6 years
- Built the committee
- Developed the processes and attracted the first applications
Had to translate the charge to actual grant making.
Had to get all the members of the church to understand the purpose of
When I was asked to join I took the typical corporate approach and said
what have we done? What has been successful? What has failed?
And how should we improve it?
All of this was driven by the idea that we were to help the maximum
number of people with a set limited amount of resources.
Therefore not everyone was going to be happy nor was every grant
applicant to receive money.
We went back and interviewed many if not all of the former grant
recipients to determine if the grants was successful or not. We also
asked the question – what did you think of the application process?
how do you think we can improve it?
We then analyzed the results of these questions to see what sort of
common traits or themes could be indentified.
The results are fascinating
Attributes of Successful Grants:
Strong full time clergy present
Understanding of the purpose of the church
Long term planning and following-through on goals and objectives
Church is in poor financial position – and recognizes the problem
Attributes of Less Successful Grants:
Lack of leadership
Short term planning
Church is in poor financial position – and does not recognize the
Armed with this analysis we decided to change the way we went about
We took on a much more rigorous approach, if it met the guidelines we
would consider it if it did not it was rejected.
Some looked as it as being heavy-handed, not helping those in need,
we looked at it as helping as many people as possible with limited
We turned down most if not all the pet charities of individual church
members, usually because they did not meet our requirements while
this is difficult to do it is essential in building up the trust of the 99% of the
church members that do not push for their own favorite charities.
We have attempted to give money to those churches that are on their
way back, not bail those on their way down.
The Church should be well intentioned and knowledgeable of the
problems they face and are attempting to address these problems.
We have attempted to give grants to churches that will use the money
to grow and therefore become self-sufficient, realizing they cannot
solve all problems.
We attempted to institute a culture on the committee that was more of a
stewardship concept that an ownership concept, the question that was asked
was would Mrs. Bedell be happy with what we were doing with here money, will
other church members be happy with what we are doing with their money
This drove us to more and more due diligence, making sure that the
grants would be successful became paramount to us.
We have discovered that giving the money away is easy; giving it away
well is difficult.
The Churches that would benefit from the money the most are those
that do not have the resources or knowledge to manage and make the
most of the grant.
They have the will and the intellect, but not the depth and breadth of
members we have here at St. Matthew’s.
Our Church is unique in that its membership has the skill set to run and
grow a ministry.
The members of the churches we think could best use the Bedell funds
have the convictions and belief; they just do not have the experience.
We would like to use the Bedell Funds as a starting point for a true
partnership between St. Matthew’s and another church in our region.
We went to our commission and asked them to spend time and help a
recipient church to develop a similar commission.
We asked the commission to help in the development of a self-
sustaining and viable ministry.
We decided to teach the grant recipients how to fish.
We required multiple meetings that in turn set differing goals for each
meeting so the possible grant recipient would go through a journey of
This is not a comfortable way of giving away money but it enables us to
give away money in a way that will make the recipient a more viable
and vibrant church which will in turn increase the number of people that
attend and therefore affect more lives than if we did not force a change
upon the recipient.
Our Rectors Goal: To learn from our fellow Christians in a way we
never dreamed possible.
- Longer lasting
- In-depth give and take with Christians from a very different
- Sister Church – The Bedell committee was charged with helping St.
Matthew’s find a sister church
- Reverend Elsberry had a set of criteria in mind for a sister church
- The Bedell Committee met with members of the diocese to discuss and
review potential church candidates
- 16 churches were considered
- The list of churches was further distilled down for fit
- Bedell Committee members visited the potential churches meeting with
clergy and vestry members to learn about the respective churches
- Bedell Committee members also worshiped at Sunday services
- The committee recommended four churches to the rector and the vestry for
Sister Church Criteria
• Permanent rector or priest in charge
• Rector compatibility must be evident
• The rector should poses strong leadership qualities
• Majority of the church must be English speaking
• There should be a financial need in the church
• There should be energy and desire to grow within the church
• The church should be located within 30 -45 minutes from SMC
• The congregation should be greater than 150 members
• The congregation should be stable to growing
• The congregation should have the desire to be a sister church
• Three churches were considered candidates to be a sister church
• The rector after careful consideration chose a sister church
• It was decided by the vestry that the runner up churches could
qualify for a Bedell grant in the future
• Bedell has made a grant to one of the runner up churches and is
studying a grant for a second at present
Gulf Coast Grants
• During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, St. Matthew’s wanted to
reach out and help.
• As a first step, a truckload of supplies were assembled, organized,
packed and driven down to a central location in the battered area.
• In the spirit of trying to continue helping and to do more, armed with
a special charge from the vestry, The Bedell Committee was asked
to identify 1-2 churches that sustained significant damage from the
hurricane and assist them with their re-building and capital raising
• The Bedell Committee reached out the dioceses in Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Central Gulf Coast
• With the help of the dioceses, a list of potential churches was
• Members of the Bedell Committee flew to the Gulf region to tour the
damaged/destroyed churches and meet and visit potential grant
• The committee narrowed the list down to two churches and
recommended them to the vestry for approval.
• The vestry approved two $250,000 grants to St. Mark’s, Gulfport and
St. Mary’s, Coden respectively.
• This past June, members of the Bedell Committee along with certain
vestry members worshiped at the newly rebuilt St. Mark’s Church at
their first service in the new church.
• As we speak, St. Mary’s, Coden is being rebuilt and we look forward
to worshiping in their soon to be completed church.
Raise The Roof
• Antioch Baptist Church in Bedford Hills has long maintained a close
relationship with St. Matthew’s.
• Antioch is a strong and growing parish and provides a number of
important outreach functions in the local community.
• Antioch approached Bedell for a grant for a needed expansion of
their parish house
• Given the historical relationship between the two churches and
Antioch’s importance to the community, St. Matthew’s wanted to
help above and beyond a Bedell grant.
• St. Matthew’s decided to jointly host a fund raising event with
Antioch to help raise a larger sum of money to put towards the
• The Raise The Roof event was held at St. Matthew’s and included a
concert held in the church followed by a dinner reception under a
• The event was a tremendous success and help Antioch get closer to
their targeted capital raising objective by raising approximately
$140,000 in addition to a $50,000 Bedell grant
• In addition, it brought the relationship between the two churches
even stronger and created awareness in the community about the
role both churches play.
• The Bedell Committee takes Christian/business like approach
• The committee acts as fiduciaries by:
• 1) doing extensive due diligence on potential grant recipients
• 2) looking to back strong rectors and vestries
• 3) looking for projects that can positively impact a church and the
lives of its parishioners
• 4) Continue to fulfill the wishes of Hope Bedell and make sure she
would be proud of the work that we do