Today’s Word from Pastor Jim… 

What will be the last statement of your life?

Many cultures have put a great emphasis on one’s final words, often spoken on a deathbed. Consider for a moment these final words of famous people:

  • The poet Emily Dickenson said, “I must go in, the fog is rising.”
  • Winston Churchill, “I’m bored with it all.”
  • Basketball great Pete Maravich (who died that day on the basketball court) said, “I feel great.”
  • And as Reggae legend Bob Marley died of cancer at 36, his last words were, “Money can’t buy life.”
  • Beethoven’s last words, “The comedy is over.”

There is a difference between last words and a last statement. Last words are spoken as one lingers somewhere between this world and the next. Last words are often spoken by oxygen deprived people, many of whom are also medicated in some way. Last words may be humorous or touching.

A last statement should be made with intention. I would hope that your last statement in life would be consistent with the values of your life. I would hope that your last statement in life could mentor your children and grandchildren. Your death provides you with a final teachable moment.

Steve Schrecengost had a vision. That vision would profoundly affect Trinity’s ability to serve present and future generations through the establishment of an endowment. The early years saw little progress. Steve and Cris (now Cris Deposit) gave gifts of stock to get the endowment started. The early years, just a few gifts and no grants. The seeds had been planted, knowing that the harvest was somewhere in the future.

In the years that followed there have been many gifts, large and small, to the TLC Endowment. Included in those gifts were the final statements of Terry Lee Otey and Jerry Valade. Terry was not a member, or even an attender, at TLC, but he knew that he had been blessed. When he died and the will was read, he had left most of his estate to the TLC Endowment as a scholarship fund. When Jerry Valade died in 2019, he made the final statement of his life. A faithful and generous supporter of his church, he left his entire estate to TLC. That gift doubled our general endowment fund.

Who benefits from the TLC Endowment? The church does not directly benefit. The Endowment was created to support scholarships, local benevolences, and off-island national or international causes. Since his final statement, nearly 100 students have gone to college supported by Terry Lee Otey Scholarships. Each year charities near and far receive grants from the TLC General Schrecengost Endowment Fund.

I would encourage you to look carefully at your estate plan. Our Endowment Committee, or our church staff, would be happy to help you. I would hope that your last statement in life would be one of thanksgiving, seizing the opportunity to touch the future, sharing one more lesson with your heirs, living out our understanding of what it means to be blessed. The Bible is very clear; we are blessed, but we are never blessed in isolation. We are blessed to be a blessing.

I will see you in church tomorrow. I will be the one up front with a fashionable yellow TLC T-Shirt.

One day closer,
Pastor Jim

The Trinity Lutheran Church Endowment will award roughly $200,000 in grants in 2022.