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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Lasting legacy thanks to a little planning

Wanda McNeill isn’t working for the prison ministry. She isn’t with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps. She isn’t working full time on Native American issues. 

But in a way she’s doing all of those things — and more. 

McNeill, pastor of Lake Preston and North Preston Lutheran churches, Lake Preston, S.D., realized through meetings with members of ELCA Planned Giving that through her inheritance and through life insurance policies, she was able to give away hundreds of thousands of dollars to about a dozen charitable organizations, including ELCACongregational and Synodical Mission for new church starts, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and a South Dakota prison ministry.

Though usually reserved, McNeill said she began to cry when she realized how much assistance she would be able to provide.

A seed for the money came from an inheritance, which she believes was left to her with the thought that she’d know how best to use it.

McNeill chose beneficiaries by looking at areas of personal interest.

“I looked at what pulls at my heartstrings,” she said. “There are places I’d like to help, and this allows me to do that. I might not make it longer than five more years, but what I am doing can have significance 10 years, 20 years, 30 years from now. This can help as I walk into the future on earth, and transition into another future.”

McNeill said she has not been vocal about her giving, but she hopes talking about it might inspire others to look at creative giving methods.


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