Baptist Homes Foundation used its annual donor recognition event as the opportunity to announce that it has raised nearly half of its $3 million goal to endow the chaplaincy program at both of its campuses and build a chapel on its Providence Point campus.

The luncheon, held August 31 at Le Mont Restaurant and underwritten by Laurel Capital Corporation and one other anonymous donor, honored giving club members who made a leadership gift in 2015 or included Baptist Homes Foundation in their estate plan.

Historic Gift

Among the good news delivered to the nearly 170 persons in attendance was that board member Larry Jackley and his wife Mardi were donating three historic stained glass windows to form the centerpiece of a new non-denominational chapel.

Little did the Jackleys know when they rescued those stained glass windows at an auction that they were saving a piece of Baptist Church history that was also an artistic treasure.  It turns out that the windows were commissioned in 1894 from Rudy Bros. & Reich for the First Baptist Church of Carnegie [also known as Mansfield Street Baptist Church].

Albert M. Tannler, historical collections director of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, said the windows are “an extraordinary find and perhaps the first example of a privately commissioned Rudy work.”

Original invoices associated with their purchase have also made it possible to determine when partner Valdemar F. Reich left the company, something that was previously unknown.

John W. Kelly, owner and founder of Kelly Art Glass and a prominent Rudy Bros. & Reich glass restorer, estimated that it would take $25,000 to completely restore the windows, but says “doing so would not only save a rare piece of stained glass history, but re-utilize it for future generations to appreciate.”

Baptist Homes Foundation has already submitted a proposal to a preservation foundation requesting funds for the restoration. The historic windows will be complemented by six contemporary stained glass windows that will incorporate design elements from the donated windows.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our gift,” said Mardi Jackley. “The windows are related to Baptist history, which is the faith tradition upon which Baptist Homes Society’s two campuses are founded.  It just seems right that their new home be connected to their original home.”

Boards Play Their Part 

The gift of the windows was not the only good news announced at the luncheon.  Baptist Homes Foundation Board President Brian Gongaware announced that every board member made a gift to the campaign, raising nearly $150,000.

The significance of this accomplishment is that it qualifies Baptist Homes Foundation to receive a $50,000 challenge grant issued by an anonymous friend who wanted to encourage sacrificial giving on the part of the boards.

“We want the community to know that we endorse this project personally as well organizationally,” said Baptist Homes Society Board Chair Jan Wenzel.  “Actions always speak louder than words.”

That sentiment was echoed by Brian Gongaware.

“We’ve been blessed to be able to serve the South Hills region for more than a century,” said Gongaware. “It’s only fitting that we complete our Providence Point community with an appropriate space to honor the One who made it possible.”

Baptist Homes’ Auxiliary echoed those sentiments by pledging $25,000 to help endow the chaplaincy program so that operational funds currently used for that purpose can be redirected to Baptist Homes Society’s Samaritan Fund for Resident Assistance.

 Residents Lead the Way

So far, the majority of the funds raised for the campaign are from Providence Point residents, some of whom pledged a portion of their community entry fee as their campaign gift…and four were in excess of $100,000…and one of those was the $676,000 lead gift.

The donors of the lead gift, who wish to remain anonymous, said they wanted to do something significant in appreciation for all of the blessings they have received.

Another couple, Dr. Jan and Jeanette Smith, not only used that strategy to make their $100,000 campaign gift, but allocated another $50,000 to create a scholarship fund for Baptist Homes Society dining staff employees to continue their education after high school.

“We wanted to do this because we believe in Baptist Homes Society’s mission,” said Dr. Smith.  “We also believe it’s important to give something back, especially when it involves God and young people, since we know how hard both work!”

All of the campaign gifts followed on the heels of two other sacrificial personal commitments to support Baptist Homes Society’s mission: a 10-year $500,000 pledge by John and Becky Surma in 2014 to enhance the Baptist Homes Campus, and the first $100,000 irrevocable entry fee refund pledge by Carl and Nancy Schrock in 2015, directed to Baptist Homes Society’s Samaritan Fund for Resident Assistance.

“This is really a tribute to everyone who has ever been touched by our mission,” concluded Baptist Homes Society President and CEO Al Allison. “It couldn’t have been a better day.”

To learn how you can support Baptist Homes Society’s mission, visit www.bhf.plannedgiving.org or call Baptist Homes Foundation at 412-489-3260.