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Anglican wills favour local churches

23 October 2015

GEOFF FREEMAN

Restoration work: repairs at Ormesby St Margaret, funded by a legacy

Restoration work: repairs at Ormesby St Margaret, funded by a legacy

MORE than half of Anglicans plan to leave a gift in their will to a church or charity, a survey from Christian Research suggests.

About 17,000 Christians in the UK, of all denominations, took part in the online survey last month. Of the 51 per cent of Anglicans who plan to remember a church or charity in their will, 71 per cent would choose their church over a charity, compared with 66 per cent of all Christians surveyed.

More than half of the total number of respondents — 55 per cent — said that they did not plan to leave any gift, or were undecided. Only five per cent felt that legacy-giving was a good way to help improve the future of UK society.

The research was carried out to coincide with last week’s Christian Legacy Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness and encourage churches and churchgoers to consider giving back to their community through making a will.

Christian Legacy is made up of several charities, including Care for the Family, and the Church Mission Society (CMS), which are emphasising the impact of donations from wills, in the hope of inspiring other Christians to do the same.

CMS pointed to its co-mission partner, Dr Lalita Edwards, who runs an orphanage in Pune, India. Many of the children were said to be “locked in the sex trade”, and had “no experience of being loved” until coming to the orphanage Santvana, which means “comforter”.

When funding for the orphanage dried up last year, Dr Edwards said that she “cried out to God” one morning for help, and heard him promise to stand by her. By the afternoon, she had received a call from CMS saying that Santvana had been left a significant legacy.

“I was so awestruck that it took me two days to digest the matter,” she said. “You will never know how much I thanked the Lord for his hand on his children who cannot provide for themselves.”

A supporter of the Bible Society died without making a will, and, by law, his whole estate passed to his brother, Fred Smith, as the sole surviving family member. Mr Smith decided that if his brother had executed a will he would have left a cash gift to his church, and the rest of his estate to the Bible Society.

He used a Deed of Variation to redirect the estate to the Bible Society — the charity is exempt from inheritance tax. Mr Smith said that he was “delighted” that, as a result, for the first time people from across the world would receive a Bible in their own language. A spokesman from the education charity TLG (also part of the group), Paul Chenery, said: “Legacy gifts play such an important role in ensuring the fantastic work of charities and churches continues. Death and legacy gifts should not be a taboo subject for Christians . . . [they] can powerfully impact future generations.”

The Church of England has released a video in support of Christian Legacy Week. In it, the National Stewardship and Resources Officer, John Preston, said: “The call to Christian stewardship doesn’t just apply to our Church and charitable giving — we’re called to be generous in all our giving throughout life, and at the end of life.”

Names have been changed.

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