Helping the poor of the world was Dennis Byrne’s passion, and Collegiate/Wesley was his family.  When Dennis died on September 21 at the age of 65, it could finally be revealed what Dennis had arranged five years ago to do with his estate.

At his memorial service, held in the church sanctuary on September 28, those present heard that Dennis had arranged for an endowed fund to be established in his name that would benefit international missions as well as missions originated and/or sponsored by Collegiate/Wesley.  The fund’s investments will be overseen by the Collegiate/Wesley Endowment Board.  The C/W Church Council will determine the recipients on an annual basis.

Those who knew Dennis can attest to his frugality and simple lifestyle.  The result was his ability to leave an estate of $1.1 million as the initial principal fund for the endowment.

A few policies were set in place to define procedures related to the fund:

  • Five percent (5%) of the market value of the principal will be distributed annually.  (In future years, an average of the January 1 market value over three years will be the baseline for the award.)
  • International missions shall receive two-thirds of the distribution.  (Dennis was especially fond of the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief [UMCOR].  Missions sponsored by CUMC/WF shall receive one-third of the distributions.
  • All realized earnings from the investments will be folded back into the principal.  Additional contributions  may be added to the fund by any person or organization at any time as long as these contributions can subject to the policies of the fund.

Photo of Dennis Byrne

There are some additional requirements regarding the types of investments allowed, the time frames by which funds will be distributed, and some other things.  Some work will have to be done by the C/W Endowment Board and Church Council to hammer out the details.  Click to read the full agreement, as well as Dennis’ obituary and the scriptures and my sermon from his memorial service (both are PDFs).

This is an incredible gift from Dennis to the work of the church in this place and, literally, around the world.  But let’s face it, it is also a challenge to us.  It would dishonor Dennis’ memory and Dennis’ gift if we began to relax our approach toward mission giving because Dennis’ gift of $55,000 per year (currently) allows us to fulfill many of our current mission obligations.  It would be a terrible irony that Dennis lived as he did so that we might become less personally committed to the causes so important to him.  Instead, we should recognize how good we have it, and re-double our efforts to reach out in concern and service to the world, in honor of Dennis and to the glory of God.

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