Sandra Schmidt was efficiently cleaning out the desk of her predecessor, Kathy Klein, who had served as church secretary and treasurer for 43 years. It would be hard to fill the shoes of one trusted by so many for so many years. As she emptied drawers, she cut her finger on the corner of a paper protruding from beneath the file folder. Blood dripped.
To Sandra’s amazement, the exposed corner turned out to be attached to an original stock certificate for a technology company. It had been a gift to the church 25 years ago. At the time it had been valued at $25,000. Instead of arriving in an electronic transfer like usual, this gift had come in the form of an original, paper stock certificate. It had been inadvertently filed away – or buried alive! Since church Trustees only serve three-year terms, it was not long until nobody on the board at the time of the gift still served. The current church leaders did not know of the existence of the gift. They were delighted when Sandra produced the asset and the chair of the trustees went to assess its current value.
A blood-curdling scream was heard, as the trustee chair hung up the phone in the other room. Not only had the stock declined in value, but the company had gone bankrupt! The certificate was a useless piece of paper.
If only the church leaders had asked the Moravian Ministries Foundation in America to liquidate the asset when it was received, the church could afford the badly-needed expansion of their building or the needed tune up to the organ. If wisely invested in the Moravian Common Fund, the gift would be worth many times its original value. (A $100 investment in 2004 would be worth $260 today, that’s quite an investment return).