Few events are as significant for both families and charitable organizations as estate planning. The mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is deeply indebted to those individuals and families who prioritize the church when determining how to allocate their assets. The Department of Planned Giving and Trust Services at the Pacific Union Conference level primarily exists to offer support and education to conference-level directors. The department coordinates continuing education every other year for various Trust workers. This educational event, which is required by the General Conference (GC) and North American Division (NAD) to fulfill the certification program, attracts more than 100 attendees, providing them with the skills to approach this important and sensitive work appropriately in order to best serve the needs of both the organization and the families whose generosity so enriches the work of the church, both in North America and around the world.
Trust services employees offer a unique ministry for the church because they may be the last representatives from the church that family members will have contact with. When settling estates, the office emphasizes compassion with family and friends that will leave a lasting impression, reminding them of the gratitude their loved ones’ gifts have inspired in us and faith that we will use these resources responsibly and with great care.
Planned Giving and Trust Services also provides a valuable resource for questions of policy and best practices when specific issues arise. One goal for the future is to create a specific marketing focus for the Pacific Union to create greater awareness of the service and confidence in its work. As the director, Jim Brown focuses on assisting conference directors with creating goals and objectives for their departments and building relationships with conference administration officers. The onset of COVID-19 shortly after he took up his responsibilities has precluded his ability to participate in certain activities, such as visiting the conferences. Brown hopes to be able to make these connections soon.
James H. Brown is the director of Planned Giving and Trust Services for the Pacific Union Conference.