By: Doug Rice
William McCartney first conceived of the idea of Stewards Foundation as the result of a personal experience. His home assembly was in need of a new facility and decided to undertake financing the project by receiving gifts from, and offering interest-bearing notes to those in fellowship. Someone asked, why not seek financing from a bank? The response was that banks had no interest in loaning money to small nondenominational churches. Such groups having no association with a permanent convention of churches were considered too risky without the personal guarantee of the largest donors among those in fellowship. Mr. McCartney reasoned that loaning money to the assembly was risky, so he made a small contribution to the project and then invested the greater part of his funds in bank stock. Soon after, the bank failed and he lost all of his investment. Noting that all those that invested their funds in the assembly project received their money back plus interest, Mr. McCartney realized that Christians are faithful in meeting their financial obligations. The reality of I Corinthians 4:2 was borne out, “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” This experience led him to the idea of a nonprofit organization financing assembly projects through the sale of bonds to those in assembly fellowships. Such an organization would give the Lord’s people a source of investment income, and the satisfaction of assisting in establishing assembly testimonies across the U.S.
On March 26, 1945, William McCartney, Paul Erickson, James Humphrey, Clyde Dennis and Donald Tyler signed Articles of Incorporation establishing Stewards Foundation as an Illinois nonprofit corporation. The Articles clearly define Stewards Foundation’s purpose:
“This corporation is organized and shall be operated exclusively for the purpose of serving and assisting churches or assemblies organized in the pattern outlined in the New Testament, and to perform the scriptural ministries and functions of the churches or assemblies which they cannot effectively perform when acting alone.”
The Articles also specify the means and the parameters of our service: “Membership in this corporation shall be open to all of those autonomous churches or assemblies, which:
- Are located in the United States, its territories and possessions,
- Are composed of individual Christians gathered in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ alone,
- And are organized and operated in accordance with biblical principles
These parameters, as enumerated in our Statement of Faith and Service Guidelines, are the basis of nonprofit foundation membership in Stewards Foundation.”
The Ministry of Steward’s Foundation
For the last 71 years Stewards Foundation has served assemblies of the Lord’s people in the U.S. through our Loan Program. Financial statements from the early years reveal the following:
- In the first year of its existence, 1946, Stewards Foundation made 4 loans totaling $11,735
- Through the first decade, 1946-1955, 327 loans were made totaling $2,934,122
- By the end of the second decade, 1956-1965, 652 loans were made totaling $7,600,000
It is difficult to accurately determine how many assemblies have been assisted over 71 years through the Loan Program, but the number could hardly be less than 2,000. A conservative estimate of funds loaned over this period is in excess of $50,000,000.
Today, some of the assembly structures originally purchased or constructed through Stewards Foundation funding are being remodeled and expanded with Stewards Foundation loans. At the end of our 2016 Fiscal Year (June 30, 2016), the Loan Program had a balance of $10,694,637 invested in 48 assembly loans across the U.S.
Health Care For Workers
Stewards Foundation has assisted the Lord’s servants with their health care for the past 64 years. The beginning of this assistance can be traced back to the purchase of Belmont Community hospital in Chicago, IL in 1953. Within 8 years, Stewards Foundation owned or controlled the operation of six hospitals: two in Chicago and four in the Seattle, WA area. Many of the Lord’s servants were assisted with health care at these hospitals until they were sold in 1982. Following the sale of the hospitals, Stewards Foundation continued this ministry by paying for commended workers’ medical expenses. However, by the mid-1990’s, medical costs had risen so dramatically that the Board of Trustees realized a change was necessary. Beginning in 1995, financial assistance was converted to an annual gift program with funds distributed to those in the Health Care Assistance Program (HCAP) through their commending assemblies.
From 1989 through 2016, almost $23,000,000 was given for health care expenses and HCAP gifts. However, almost $9,500,000 was from the principal fund, jeopardizing Stewards Foundation’s primary purpose of providing loans that in turn support HCAP through loan proceeds. In 2011, the Board of Trustees enacted a five-year plan to eliminate giving in excess of net income. Today, funds for the annual HCAP gift come only from Stewards Foundation’s cash profit.
Recently, the Board of Trustees agreed to share in the funding of a new venture by Assembly Care Ministries (ACM). The feeling is that ACM’s Health Line will benefit those serving the Lord in the U.S. and overseas. More information on the Health Line will be made available to the assemblies and their commended workers in the near future. Stewards Foundation remains committed to the privilege of assisting the Lord’s servants with health care needs.
Stewards Foundation’s first office was set up within the offices of Mr. McCartney’s wholesale furniture business on West Lake Street in Chicago, IL. By 1956, both the furniture business and Stewards Foundation were in need of additional space, so a ten-story building on South Wacker Drive in Chicago was purchased. Stewards Foundation sold the building in late 1965, but remained as a tenant until the end of 1969. In 1970, the corporate offices were moved into a newly constructed building on Willow Street in Wheaton, IL. In 1998, Stewards Foundation relocated its operations to Addison, TX. Presently, the corporate office is located at 1420 W. Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX 75247. Visit our website, www.stewardsfoundation.org, to sign up for our newsletter and find more information about Stewards Foundation.