About The Schowalter Foundation, Inc.
J. A. Schowalter was a farmer and a practical man. He was known to be dependable and conscientious with a keen mind for business. Very little of his wealth was spent on his own comforts. Few would guess, by his simple way of life, that he was a man of significant means.
The distribution of his material blessings engaged much of Schowalter’s time and thinking. Schowalter testified that it was the blessing of God that his work and plans succeeded to mount up to what could be called a sizeable fortune.
Toward the end of his life, J.A. began to make plans for a trust or foundation that would perpetually provide support for his main concerns, primarily which were relief efforts, missionary endeavors, peace and social concerns, programs to alleviate hunger and other worthy causes.
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.
This distinctive strategy can serve as the foundation for the ongoing legacy of your farmland.
The J. A. Schowalter Farmstead, 1950