Testimonials | United Church of Canada Foundation


Stories of change: Foundation testimonials

Returning the love he found: Howard Aitken

Duncan Best, Howard Aitken’s nephew and executor, shared the following with us…

For many years, my Uncle Howard and Aunt Kathryn were active members of Toronto’s Deer Park United Church. My uncle died in October, 2019. Upon his death, my uncle’s entire estate passed to my aunt with the exception of a couple of specific bequests, one of which was a RRIF he left to The United Church of Canada Foundation.

“My uncle’s rationale for his gift was simple: without the United Church, he never would have met my Aunt Kathryn, whom he was introduced to at Toronto’s Timothy Eaton Church. They married in 1966 and enjoyed over 50 years together!”

In speaking with Duncan, we learned that his uncle enjoyed welcoming parishioners to church on Sundays before ushering them to their seats. A long-time Chartered Professional Accountant, Howard not only served on Deer Park’s Finance Committee and Board of Trustees, he also served on a number of non-profit boards, including St. Matthew’s Bracondale House.

In keeping with his desire to help others both near and far, Howard’s legacy gift will benefit Mission & Service, supporting outreach programs in Canada and across the globe.

The youthful community of Calvary United Church

Through the generosity of our donors to both the Living Spirit and Faith in Mission funds, we were able to award a Seeds of Hope grant to Calvary United Church to help grow their multi-faceted community of youth leaders and disciples.

Emily Cowley, a program participant, says, “seeing people become fully alive in God knows no bounds. My hope and joy is witnessing first-hand the ground that’s been broken around the vision of this program! As a long-time staff member of Silver Lake United Church Camp, I am very grateful to have been a direct beneficiary of the investment of many wonderful mentors and leaders. Their prayers, teachings and guidance have been life-giving for me, and I know I have become a better leader because of them.”

Citizen of the world: Anna Jentzsch-Bill

First set up in 1994 as a memorial trust fund with an initial gift of $100, the Anna Jentzsch-Bill Endowment Bursary now provides several awards of up to $5,000 annually to women in lay, ordained, or diaconal ministry.

Anna Jentzsch-Bill’s generous fund supports women with their theological studies, continuing education, or other professional development activity. Successful candidates must demonstrate how the new learning will enhance her capacity to provide ministry.

Born in Marburg, Germany in 1914, Anna Jentzsch first moved to England when she was 16. No sooner did she arrive than she was kicked out not once but twice because she didn’t have the proper work permits.

Not one to take ‘no’ for an answer, Anna returned to England in 1935, managing to find work as a house servant before training as a nurse. Following internment on the Isle of Man and post-war relief work in Germany, she met her husband, Jim Bill. Wanting a better life, they moved to Hamilton, Ontario and were married in 1952. They soon established a nursing home with Anna as both owner and administrator.

Following Jim’s death in 1978, Anna sold the nursing home, travelled extensively and became very active with Mount Carmel-Zion United Church in Morriston a short drive east of Cambridge, ON.

Anna passed away in 2005 and her obituary described her as “a generous philanthropist and astute businesswoman who considered herself a citizen of the world.”

Among other extremely generous gifts, Anna donated her house to Mount Carmel-Zion United and established the Anna Jentzsch-Bill Endowment Bursary for women in ministry.

Anna’s gift may have started small but it’s had an incredible impact. In 2018, one of the grants from Anna’s fund supported Ursula Wiig’s professional development through Ursula’s participation in a conference on Rural Ministry in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ursula wrote, “Those of us in rural ministry know we can’t go back to the ‘good old days’ but, hopefully, the new United Church structure will not only celebrate rural and small church ministries, but support them with innovative breakthroughs that will ensure their future is bright.”

Bridges out of Poverty at Bedford House

Bridges Out of Poverty, a highly successful citizen-led initiative impacting 370 communities across North America, is something Bedford House in Peterborough, Ontario is excited to offer to their constituents as they seek to bridge the poverty gap in their community.

As the creators of the program note, “It takes more than money to create stability.” Stability comes from a shared understanding of the problems people face, as well as a commitment to show God’s Love to the World. Building connections and relationships between people in Bedford House’s vast network provides their volunteers with a much better understanding of the barriers and circumstances of those people who are under-resourced.

We were happy to provide Bedford House with a grant from the Ann Baker Fund for Innovative Seniors’ Ministry to assist Bridges Out of Poverty. Ann Baker made a gift to the United Church through her estate in 1986. Through her vision and generosity, we have been making grants to support good work across the country ever since.

The Alvin Dixon Memorial Bursary Fund

The late Alvin Dixon worked persistently to advocate for Indigenous people’s interests. In his life’s work, he planted and incarnated a vision for the long journey towards reconciliation. In Alvin’s memory, The Alvin Dixon Memorial Bursary Fund for Indigenous education now awards yearly bursaries to Indigenous students.

The W. Norman McLeod Trust Fund

In 1972, W. Norman McLeod did something truly amazing: he created a trust that has been contributing to the post-graduate education of our ordained leaders for nearly 45 years. In the past decade, his scholarship has awarded more than $100,000 to United Church ministers who have furthered their studies in an effort to be more effective leaders in our congregations.

The Endowment Fund for Indigenous Post-Secondary Education

In 2010, a couple from Peterborough established an endowment fund that would provide scholarships for Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education. In 2018, after the donors made annual gifts for a number of years, the Fund reached its granting threshold and made its first grants in 2019.

The Fund now provides yearly scholarships that are available to Indigenous youth aged 18-29 years who are enrolled in full-time post-secondary studies. Priority is given to students demonstrating both financial need and academic excellence. Recipients are eligible for multiple years.


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