Longtime passion leads to enduring gifts


When Esther Arne and her husband, Harry, joined St. James Lutheran Church…in Fayetteville, N.C., in 1956, they quickly found a home. As the years went by, she shares, “We really became active in the church beyond the local congregation.”



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Twenty-five years ago, as three predecessor church bodies came together to form the ELCA, Esther and Harry both took leadership roles in this process. Harry was the founding president for Lutheran Men in Mission. Esther was a delegate to the constituting convention for Women of the ELCA and served on the first executive board. She was also responsible for helping establish three levels of giving: regular offerings, thank offerings and special gifts. Esther’s passion for women’s ministries continued as she served in a number of capacities for the ELCA North Carolina Synod and Women of the ELCA.

As Esther and Harry started to get older, they began to think about how to give back to the church they loved. Harry has recently passed away but their commitment remains. “I’m very church oriented, and I’m very concerned about people and being able to help them where they need help,” Esther says.

She and her husband decided to establish an endowment, the Arne Memorial Fund, through the ELCA Foundation. “We decided we wanted to do something lasting,” she shares, “so we opened an account with the ELCA Foundation and we have donated every year since.” The endowment they established is invested with the ELCA Endowment Fund Pooled Trust.

In addition to their endowment to benefit the work of this church, she and Harry established a charitable gift annuity. This charitable annuity provides a fixed monthly payment to Esther with the remainder to be added to their endowment when they have both passed on.

The gifts of the Arnes help support a number of churchwide and ELCA North Carolina Synod ministries including Women of the ELCA and North Carolina Lutheran Men in Mission.

Through Women of the ELCA, they established the Arne Administrative Scholarship to help women advance in administrative careers. “There are so many people, particularly with families, that need help getting an education," Esther says. "I would like for women to have the opportunity to go to the top of organizations if they desire.”

Esther has been so pleased with her endowment and charitable gift annuity established through the ELCA Foundation that she plans to purchase another charitable gift annuity in the near future. “I’m very pleased that we have been able to participate all these years,” Esther says of her partnership with the ELCA Foundation.

Adapted from Inspired Giving (Winter 2013), the newsletter of the ELCA Foundation 

Previous Stewardship stories:

Honoring bold women

So many shoes: A Stewardship story

From scarcity to abundance