TMF End-of-year Update Q&A with President Tom Locke
We are pleased to offer this interim report on the 2021 financial results for the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF). The detailed 2021 impact report will be distributed in April, after the auditors’ final report has been submitted and approved by the finance committee of our board of directors. As always, you can access timely financial data on our website and you can read or download our 2020 impact report, audited 2020 financials, as well as unaudited consolidated financial statements posted monthly.
How would you characterize 2021 for the church and for TMF?
For so many of our congregations and for so many personally, 2021 was another year of isolation, loss, and overwhelming need. Our pastors deserve our gratitude, our respect, our encouragement, and especially our prayers, for their really heroic efforts to be the church during this time. But just as we saw during 2020, times of crisis can catalyze positive change – often when seen through a lens of abundance instead of scarcity. That spirit of abundance is the truth of the church, of faith communities everywhere, and is what we saw defiantly acted out during 2021 and were so privileged to support. We partnered with clergy and lay leaders, already overwhelmed with challenges, as they rose above their own anxieties and took risks to creatively connect with their congregants and meet the needs outside their church walls.
At TMF, our donors, investors, borrowers chose to engage and lean into struggles rather than withdraw and withhold. That perspective of abundance is what accounts for our continued financial strength and ability to support the work of ministry at a time when people desperately need the church to be at its best. All in all, we are grateful to have had another year of strong outcomes – financially and through our other ministries.
How would you describe the Texas Methodist Foundation’s financial condition at the end of 2021?
I am happy to report yet another year of growth for TMF, both in assets and in financial strength. Against the backdrop of a positive market performance, TMF ended 2021 with $734.9 million in assets under management, a $25 million increase over 2020. While loan growth was flat in 2021, due to continued COVID uncertainty, our Methodist Loan Fund (MLF) finished the year strong with $330 million in assets and investors, a growth of $2.1 million for the year.
Our net income growth boosted our Undesignated Endowment (capital account) to $72 million, an increase of $4 million over the previous year. This serves as a first line of defense to protect Methodist Loan Fund/Individual Fund investors, though our record of never having suffered a loss of loan principal remains unblemished.
In addition to asset growth, what are some other financial highlights?
During 2021, TMF received more than $1.48 million in gifts to support our Leadership and Grants ministries as well as our Undesignated Endowment. I was especially humbled and honored that those contributions included $650,000 in gifts and pledges to the Thomas R. Locke Endowment Fund that was established in recognition of my service to TMF to fund opportunities identified by TMF’s leadership to further its mission “To empower the Church in the achievement of its God-appointed missions”—particularly the consideration and exploration of new forms of ministry. More than the honor, which is monumental, is the trust in TMF’s work that these contributions recognize and affirm. I truly believe our organization is, can, and will bring about new possibilities for God’s work in the world, so the fact that this endowment will enhance that work into the future is enormously gratifying to me.
How did TMF use these resources to address pressing needs from the pandemic and the devastating ice storm last year?
Our financial performance enabled TMF to continue to empower the church through resources such as:
- $2.8 million in in direct support to nonprofits, including churches, community outreach centers, and other ministries that continued to pivot and creatively serve those struggling in their communities. Of that total, TMF granted $2.3 million from its restricted permanent endowment funds, and the remainder from its operating budget.
- Over $73,000 in emergency relief grants from a temporary COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
- A special grant distribution of $386,750 to 80 organizations, all selected by board members, to help ministries in their home communities struggling from the winter storm and the pandemic
- More than $1.2 million in new commitments to endowment, donor-advised funds, and charitable trusts and gift annuities from families across Texas and New Mexico
- A loan assistance program for borrowers enabling them to defer payments
- Safe spaces for clergy to connect during this isolating time, to stay spiritually grounded and to embolden one another in responding to the mounting challenges they faced
- A new podcast called “Igniting Imagination”
- C3 (Courageous Congregations Collaborative) initiative to help congregations emerge from the pandemic stronger and better able to fulfill the newness God intends
The United Methodist Church recently announced another postponement of the 2020 General Conference, this time until 2024. What is TMF’s position on the denominational separations?
TMF is here to serve all congregations who claim a Wesleyan origin, wherever they are in this journey. That includes congregations who remain a part of the UMC, those who choose to join another denomination or those who disaffiliate from any denomination. We serve an active and loving God, always on the move. Our hope and prayer is that whatever form or forms the Methodist witness takes, the Wesleyan movement that began our denomination will remain a touchstone. I think the Wesleyan tradition of grace, covenant groups, leadership, social holiness, just to name a few characteristics, is uniquely able to recognize the needs of a hungry world and to equip leaders to respond to those needs.
Please see our April 2021 statement for more information.
You announced last November that you will be retiring this year when a new president is named. What are your hopes for the future of TMF and the church?
When we announced my retirement last November, the board had already been apprised of and preparing for this transition. The search committee is comprised of a stellar group of TMF and Wesleyan Investive board members, and they are working with a nationally recognized firm to select the new president. I have every confidence that this will be a smooth transition.
As for my hopes for the future of TMF and the church, I see this change at TMF, the adaptations and essential questions uncovered by the pandemic, and the shifts in our denomination as an opportunity to do more than go back to the way things were – a chance, a responsibility, to do better. We have the capacity for so much more transformation – to bring the world more into alignment with that which God desires. My hope is that we partner together to fulfill God’s purposes, especially through these unsettling times. That we keep asking, “What will we learn? How will we rise to this opportunity?” As long as we continue to defiantly act with abundance, we will stay on the path to the way things could be. TMF has the capacity, the intention and the passion to walk with you on that path.
Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering the Church to achieve its God-appointed mission, and living our values of servanthood, integrity and competence. TMF is the largest United Methodist foundation in the country offering assistance to United Methodists through investments, loans, grants, leadership platforms, gift planning, and endowment services. TMF serves the six United Methodist conferences throughout Texas and New Mexico. TMF is based in Austin, Texas. To learn more, please visit tmf-fdn.org.