82 years ago TMF took the first steps toward supporting, finding, and resourcing innovations for fulfilling the purpose of the church. This timeline chronicles TMF’s milestones but, more importantly, we celebrate the changed lives empowered by these milestones.
The TMF story began in 1938 when the country was still reeling from the Great Depression. Concerned about the ability of Methodist institutions to recover from the financial crisis and continue to answer social and spiritual needs, a group of farsighted clergy and laity lifted their vision higher than the dust bowl and bread lines to plant seeds for a future with hope.
They chartered the Texas Methodist Foundation on March 4, 1938, to promote the “Christian doctrine of Stewardship” . . . “to aid our Methodist institutions in the achievement of their God-appointed missions.”
A focus on God’s purposes – and faith in the power of God working through faith communities to fulfill those purposes – began with our founders and continues today.
After many starts and stops, TMF began to take root in the late 1950s. Some of the original founders – like Bishops Martin and Smith and J.J. Perkins – were instrumental in reactivating TMF. They created a touchstone we come back to often – a bedrock of profound faith, purpose, and perseverance.
From the late 1970s until his retirement in 1993, Charles Laing (pictured left) led TMF during a phenomenal period of growth in lending, investments, planned gifts, and total assets from $4 million to $100 million. He also established a culture centered on relationships of trust that persists today. (Sydney Roberts, board chair, pictured right)
After Tom Locke, former TMF CFO became president, TMF discovered its core ideology – our purpose and values – in the late 1990s. We began thinking differently about ourselves – not so much as a financial services provider, but as a ministry that offers financial services. We asked ourselves what more we could do to respond to the emerging needs of the church.
In 2003, with the help of a grant from Lilly Endowment’s Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative, we began a Leadership Ministry that provides peer learning platforms for clergy and lay leaders to address the critical issues facing the church as it seeks to live out its mission of making disciples. Jim Turley and Wayne Day (pictured left and right) launched and led this ongoing initiative with the help of peer group facilitators like Don Pike (center).
In 2010, with the guidance of Gil Rendle, we honed our strategic direction “to help the church become more purposeful and more clearly focused on her God-appointed missions through the integration of financial and leadership resources.”
In 2014, the Texas Methodist Foundation welcomed the New Mexico Methodist Foundation to our family. We abbreviated our name to TMF to reflect our expanded mission to serve all six conferences in Texas and New Mexico and our increasing collaboration with thought leaders and entrepreneurial organizations across the nation. We also adopted the tagline “stewarding potential” as a defining aspect of our ministry.
In 2014 we reached a major milestone of over $500M in assets under management. We also received a $1M grant from Lilly Endowment to support TMF’s Area Staff ministry in helping congregations create cultures of purpose, generosity, and courage.
In 2018, again with assistance from Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry Initiative, TMF’s Leadership Ministry launched the Courageous Leadership Imperative, a network of learning and innovation for courageous leaders.
January 1, 2019, marked two significant milestones. Heartspring Methodist Foundation merged with TMF and after two years as managing agent for the United Methodist Development Fund (UMDF), a national lender to UM churches, TMF transitioned to controlling agent of UMDF and formed the board of directors pictured here.
TMF is a vital resource to a dynamic and multifaceted United Methodist Church, which has grown to over $660 million in assets under management. Throughout our 80+ years, the most vibrant times have been when we have stepped out boldly. We come from a long line of leaders who believed in the church with a capital C – not only for the sake of the institutional church but for the organic “body of Christ” as an instrument of God’s grace and love to be used for the sake of the world. Their emphasis wasn’t on the past but on the future. What are the next bold steps for TMF? May God bless the miles and the years yet to come.