Jenifer Hale Deming's planned giving includes a major bequest to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Her extravagant generosity comes on the heels of many gifts to the seminary—a pattern established while she was still an M.Div. student at the South Hamilton campus.
When she took a course that included a travel seminar to England, she discovered that a young man in the class could not afford to travel. So she started a Travel Seminar Fund.
When she and other members of the campus' Women's Resource Network observed the financial needs of non-M.Div. female students, they created the Doulas Fund to help support scholarships. Many recipients were women in the Master of Arts in Counseling program.
When the seminary introduced a Mission Loan Repayment program that assumes the educational loans of students called to the mission field, she also gave to that initiative. The program enables individuals to pursue their call immediately, rather than wait five to 10 years to pay back loans—a requirement of most mission agencies.
"Just being there and seeing the needs of these students led me to want to give back," she explains. "Here I was having just inherited a decent sum of money and there were people who found it hard to rub two nickels together."
After graduating in 2001, Jenifer pursued a chaplaincy residency at the Albany (New York) Medical Center, and now serves in an interim capacity at a men's medium security prison in the Adirondack Mountains. She preaches or participates in inmate-planned Sunday chapel services, and leads a Monday Bible study. She is also a volunteer chaplain for a local hospital and a nursing home.
In planning her future philanthropy, Jenifer determined that a bequest was the best option for her, in part because of present income needs and the tax advantages this type of donation offers.
And she chose Gordon-Conwell because, as she explains, "I felt that the seminary was doing work that I really, really valued. The fact that I was a student there and got so much out of it, I knew that what it is doing will be of lasting significance."
As an older student, Jenifer enjoyed living on campus, engaging with the professors, participating in a Friday night fellowship group in her dormitory, and enrolling in the meal plan so she could get acquainted with fellow students.
Today, she's still finding ways to help students with practical needs. In her home in the Adirondacks, the front section is somewhat independent of the rest of her house. So she lets Gordon-Conwell students use it for vacations.