Salute to Church Trustees!
Vigilant Trustees Protect Texas Conference from Fraud in Port Arthur, 1949
The work of church trustees at the local, district, and conference levels is often overlooked, but they should be honored and respected for the vital service they provide in advancing the Kingdom of God. They are responsible for property matters and are often selected for their experience and sagacity in matters of finance, real estate, insurance, and related fields.
Trustees are the group that make sure that the property interests of the church are conducted on a squeaky-clean, conservative basis so that the programs of the church in evangelism, education, healing, and mercy ministries can concentrate wholly on their missions with little concern for property issues.
As one reads Trustee reports in the annual conference Journals, one sees fairly routine matters. Texas Conference Journals show negotiation of oil leases, deeding abandoned church properties to cemetery associations, authorizing new construction of conference buildings and so on. The 1950, Journal, though, presents a case in which trustees had the sad duty of responding to a case of fraud against Methodist interests.
Walter Clark of Port Arthur died and left the residue of his estate to four Methodist causes—The Home in Waco, Training Home in San Antonio, the Methodist Hospital in Houston, and the Texas Conference Superannuate Fund—in equal shares. The bequest consisted of a five room house in Port Arthur.
Clark’s executor was a relative who sold the house to another relative for $3,500, recorded the deed at the Jefferson County Court House, and then began negotiations to sell the house again to a third party for $5,250. The executor intended to keep the extra $1,750 for himself.
Fortunately the trustees heard about the intended fraud. It was a very delicate matter, but eventually the executor reconveyed the property, and it was sold to the legitimate buyer for $5,250. After expenses of sale were deducted, each of the four benevolent causes of the church received checks for $1,226.57. Hats off to the conference trustees for their vigilance!