Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Church Weighs Uses of Bequest Foundation Will Decide How to Spend $60 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

St. Marys Church Weighs Uses of Bequest Foundation Will Decide How to Spend $60 Million

Article excerpt

ST. MARYS -- The congregation of St. Marys United Methodist Church debated for hours yesterday, into the night, over what to do with its $60 million donation, which could be the largest single donation ever made to a U.S. church.

After meeting behind closed doors for nearly three hours, the congregation still hadn't decided what to do with the money willed from the estate of businessman Warren Bailey.

The congregation was weighing three options: Donate some of the money and invest the rest, give away all the money at one time or invest it all and give away the yearly earnings.

The congregation also could have rejected all three options and started the process over, said the Rev. Derek McAleer, the church's pastor.

Jeff McAleer, the pastor's son, who was in the meeting yesterday, said the congregation had agreed that a foundation would decide how to spend the money but hadn't decided by last evening which of the three options to choose.

"While we will try to make the best decision we can, God will be able to work with that." Once a decision is made, he said, the discussions about how to spend the money will not be over.

Church leaders formed a 13-member committee in August to make a recommendation to the congregation about the best way to handle the estate, McAleer said. They contacted other churches that had inherited large sums of money or been given large donations and talked to attorneys and investment firms before giving three options to be voted on.

The foundation was created to allow church officials to return to their jobs instead of dealing with constant requests for news media interviews and donations to different causes, McAleer said.

It won't be easy deciding which causes get donations and which ones are rejected. The Rev. McAleer said requests for donations have come in daily since October, when church officials learned how much money there were getting from Bailey's estate. Bailey left the church 49 percent of the stock of Camden Telephone Co. …

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