The Schowalter Foundation, Inc.
For several years before his death, J. A. Schowalter was considering and planning how to establish a charitable trust that would bear his name. He had discussed the possibility with various friends and individuals of establishing a trust or foundation that would perpetuate some of his concerns, primarily which were peace and peace education, aid to ministers and resettlement of refugees. This, however, he never accomplished during his lifetime, but he had made provision in his last will and testament that the major portion of his estate be used for such purposes.
Because of legal and other considerations, the establishment of a charitable foundation did not seem probable. But, through diligent and resourceful legal direction and structuring, The Schowalter Foundation, Inc. was chartered in the state of Kansas on May 7, 1954. The total initial corpus of the Foundation was $1,025,794.
Judge Sam Sturm signed the order closing the estate. He is quoted to say “We are pleased the estate can go for such a splendid cause.” The picture below is of Judge Sturm (seated) signing the order.
Judge Sam Sterm (seated) signs the order to close the J. A. Schowalter estate.
Mr. Schowalter’s will provided that three church conferences, The Mennonite Church, The General Conference Mennonite Church and the Church of God in Christ Mennonite, should each appoint two trustees according to his criteria: “A Christian who has a practical, consistent, just and righteous-minded background and further conforms to the provisions and general spirit and purpose of this instrument by past life, confession and act …” and “each conference must elect at least one practical layman.”
The Mennonite Church and The General Conference Mennonite Church have since combined into Mennonite Church USA. As of January 1, 2017, The Schowalter Foundation was granted status as a supporting organization of Everence Foundation, an affiliate of Everence, which is the stewardship agency of Mennonite Church USA. The Schowalter Foundation Board currently consists of eight persons, at least two of whom are congregational members of Church of God in Christ, Mennonite and all are members of Mennonite or Anabaptist denominations that have current or historical affiliation with the three Mennonite denominations specified by Mr. Schowalter.
A Distinctive Strategy
The Schowalter Foundation is distinctive among foundations because its assets consist primarily of farm real estate. Current farmland holdings are in five Kansas counties in central and western Kansas. In recent years Schowalter Foundation’s net income has been generated from farm operations, oil and gas royalty income and investment income. The continuing strategy of The Schowalter Foundation is to make grants of its income to challenge, encourage and stimulate further outreach and witness.
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The J. A. Schowalter Farmstead, 1950