Faithful Giving Impacts Generations To Come

I recently had a chance to meet and talk with John Buenz at an event at the Diocese of El Camino Real in San Jose, CA. I was surprised when I learned that he and his wife, Marilyn, have been contributing monthly to Episcopal Relief & Development, since the days when it was still the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. That’s at least 20 years, and they haven’t missed a month!

He explained, "I like the monthly giving because it regularly connects me with your work. And I strongly believe in what you’re doing.” I had to learn more.

John and Marilyn have been married for 41 years. They have two daughters and six grandchildren. John has been retired for 21 years – well, sort of. His priority during “retirement” has been to maintain a positive purpose. As a result, he has remained very engaged with family and ministry. After retiring in 1996 as Dean of St. John’s Cathedral in the Diocese of Spokane (Washington State), he returned to the Diocese of El Camino Real in California, which he helped to found in 1980. He has continued to serve many times as an interim rector, Diocesan search consultant, frequently in long-term associate roles or Sunday supply positions, and one year as the visiting chaplain to students at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. I was so inspired hearing about John’s ventures.


His long-standing charitable interest with Episcopal Relief & Development has included education, hunger alleviation and, most recently, helping with the refugee crisis. John says that the organization appeals to him and Marilyn because it is an explicit witness of Christ’s presence and care in the world. On a very practical level, he says the percent spent on administrative costs is more reasonable in comparison to similar organizations. He likes that. They also give to other outreach ministries including the local San Jose Urban Mission and the USA for the UNHCR.

He maintains that, “Although we’re not wealthy people, we have enough money for our age. We don't feel that we're doing anything extraordinary.” I admire their sustained commitment to all they invest in and Episcopal Relief & Development is fortunate to entrust such a relationship.

Nohn Buenz

He goes on to say that much of what the wider world struggles with is well beyond their knowledge and presence. They appreciate that tangible actions can follow their concerns expressed in prayer, like the ability to address clean water and sanitation in rural villages. “We are grateful for the opportunity that Episcopal Relief & Development affords us to be present through others. In fact, we thank you for offering this connection which comes so naturally to us,” says John.

It’s hard not to feel a warm heart from such humbleness and commitment – We take every investment to heart and are so grateful for partners like John and Marilyn for all these years, and to everyone that chooses Episcopal Relief & Development. John let me know that the organization is in their estate plan too, through the Matthew 25 Society, and that they intend to continue their monthly support “for the duration...”

Discover how you can become a member of the Matthew 25 Legacy Society today!



Richard Hoff is a Major Gifts Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development.


Images: Top — Inside an ECD classroom in Zambia; Middle 1 — Hand washing in Nicaragua; Middle 2 — John and Marilyn Buenz

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Goal 1: No Poverty

Goal 1: No Poverty End poverty in all its forms everywhere  Learn more»

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

554be761359bb2c17e80f64e0f1fbdcdEnd hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture  Learn more »

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-BeingEnsure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages  Learn more»

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Goal 6: Clean Water and SanitationEnsure access to water and sanitation for all Learn more »

Goal 16: Peace and Justice

Goal 16: Peace and JusticePromote just, peaceful and inclusive societies  Learn more »

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