Archived Sections, Lutherans in the Twin Cities


When John Holl, a Presbyterian layman and one-time president of the Whirlpool Corporation, died last year, his estate provided that his wife’s congregation, Pilgrim Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, receive a bequest of $100,000.
This past December, Holl’s wife, Dolores, a long-time member of the ELCA congregation, died at the age of 95. The congregation was informed it would be receiving 20% of her estate. The church’s share will amount to $980,000, funds designated for the congregation’s endowment. The gift will be transferred to the congregation over the next year or more.
During their lives, John and Dolores Ryder Holl quietly supported colleges, hospitals, churches, and other organizations with generous financial gifts.
The Rev. Carol Tomer, who leads the congregation located at 1935 St. Clair Avenue, told Metro Lutheran, “Dolores’ gift has been a faith-filled witness of charitable dreaming.” Said Tomer, the large bequest “has stirred up even greater energy for long-range stewardship in the Pilgrim community.”
She said the Endowment Fund at Pilgrim Church “is designated for mission and ministry purposes beyond our General Fund.”
Tomer said, “The significance of Dolores’ bequest isn’t simply the amount, but especially what it meant in her life to have Pilgrim in her will.”
In a letter to the membership, congregational president Lois Gehrman explained that $500,000 would be received by the parish “sometime before June 1 [2001] … and then, within a year from June, we will receive the remainder … approximately an additional $480,000.”
Tomer told Metro Lutheran that that any announcement of how the earnings realized from the gift might be allocated was premature. She said, “Before John Holl’s gift, the total endowment for this congregation amounted to $28,000. We simply hadn’t created any firm guidelines for how earnings from the endowment should be designated, since the amounts being realized were not large enough to make it a real issue.”
Tomer says there are parameters which the congregation intends to follow when distributing earnings from the endowment. They include programs not funded by the congregation’s regular budget; programs beyond the parish which are deemed worthy of support, including support for the work of the St. Paul Area Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; capital improvements and debt reduction; other needs which the leadership identifies.