A handful of volunteer church leaders gave birth to the “Methodist Foundation of Rock River Conference” on October 14, 1949. These beginnings were humble but full of potential for the future. One of the earliest leaders of the Foundation, Rev. Milo J. Vondracek, wrote in December 1960:
It is obvious to anyone who has been with the Foundation for even a limited time that the work of the Foundation is not a product or a package. It is rather a changed outlook, a new perspective represented by a fresh approach to stewardship.
Much has changed since 1949, of course, but Christian faith expressed through generosity persists and prevails! Amen!
Nearly 200 people gathered together at the DoubleTree in Downers Grove on Sunday night, October 13, 2019, to celebrate the Foundation’s 70th anniversary. During the reception everyone engaged in lively conversation among friends, new and old, and enjoyed the hip, cool tones of the Spencer Peterson Trio. The attendees entered the Grand Ballroom for dinner and received the invocation from Bishop Sally Dyck. The Foundation presented the gift of a purple pair of Hoka running shoes to Bishop Dyck for serving on the Foundation board. During dinner three former Foundation presidents encouraged the attendees with words of wisdom from living lives in the service of generosity (the Revs. John Peterson, 2014-2016; Harry Nicol, 2003-2014; Richard Heiss, 1976-2003). After dinner the attendees experienced the compelling witness of Phyllis Tholin and Sisbro (a covenant group that has pledged 2% of their income to causes decided collectively by the group every year since the 1970s!) and the inspiring stories of the following seven organizations to whom the Foundation granted $10,000 each:
- I Am Abel Foundation
- Inspired Youth, Inc.
- Mobile Care Chicago
- Almost Home Chicago, Inc.
- Mendota Area Senior Services, Inc.
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE: Chicago Chapter)
At the end of the evening Board Chair George Gill and President Chris Walters recognized Carolyn Cook, Executive Assistant, for serving the Foundation in her 40th year! As the celebrants departed they received a winter beanie (pictured below) with the Foundation logo and the words, “Encouraging Generosity Since 1949.” It was a magnificent evening!
Thank you to everyone who celebrated together, and thank you to the many, many people who are encouraged by and support the services of the Foundation!
The first four photos below are courtesy of Tom Nicol Photography. The remaining photos are courtesy of Aquilino Javier (Pong).