The current Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation is Zoe M. Hicks from Atlanta. She is a tax and estate planning attorney, author, and speaker. In this interview, she shares where the Foundation is, where it's going, and how it helps churches, members, and ministries.
1. What kind of shape is the Foundation in today?
We are in excellent shape, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still working on some areas where we need to improve. We have just received a clean audit from the accounting firm that conducts our annual audit. We are now five years into the merger of the foundations of the North Georgia Annual Conference and the South Georgia Annual Conference. The foundations of the two annual conferences had very different ways of operating, and in the merger we have all had to bend and stretch to accommodate those differences. I believe, however, that because of that, we have emerged stronger than either of the foundations were prior to the merger. We have learned from each other and chosen to take the best from our separate existences and blend them into the new merged Georgia United Methodist Foundation. I have found it personally rewarding to get to know and to work with our colleagues from South Georgia, who bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and wisdom to our Board.
2: What is your vision for the Foundation?
I have two points of focus. First, we need to be in complete compliance with all federal and state laws and with our own bylaws. With the most able help from my fellow board members on the Executive Committee, we are designing checklists for each of our committee chairs to insure each committee is in compliance. We want the churches, individuals and para-church ministries we serve to know that we do things right and pay attention to the details. The other area of focus is educational. We are developing new webinars for our churches to use and more are planned. We are almost ready to roll out our Wills Webinar. This will be a valuable resource for churches to use to allow their members to learn how to begin the process of getting a will and what to think about before contacting an attorney. We also want to provide training for pastors to enable them to better manage the financial health of their churches and of their own families. We hope to get funding to make a weekend of financial education available for every pastor in the state who would like to come.
3. What does the Foundation offer to churches and individuals that banks, investment firms and other for-profit organizations don’t offer?
The opportunity to participate in the ministry of the Foundation. If a church chooses to use the Foundation for a building fund loan instead of a bank, for example, the interest it pays helps to support our scholarships to students attending Methodist colleges, to provide educational resources to our churches throughout the state, and to get valuable and helpful financial information out to our members.
4. You are an author. What do you write and what are you currently working on?
I write Christian self-help, inspirational books. I am working on my fourth book which explores the connection between prayer and faith (believing prayer). I need testimonials, and if anyone who reads this interview has a prayer testimony to share, I would love to talk to him or her. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 404-788-1719. One of the great things about writing is the stories I get to hear. They have strengthened my faith, and I love to share them through my writing.
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation helps United Methodist churches, ministries and members in Georgia by providing planned giving, investment, lending and endowment services, as well as grants and scholarships. For more information, contact the Foundation at 770-449-6726, 877-220-5664 or email@example.com or visit www.gumf.org.