Our Donegal members who are most aware of the church financial matters, have probably noted that our Endowment Fund has been accessed in order to meet financial obligations. Many of our members would not know how the church acquired the money to establish the fund begun in 1988.  It began with a portion of the legacy to the church from Miss Minnie Witmer who served as a missionary to China from 1920 until she, for the second time, had to leave China because of the Communist takeover in 1949.

Minnie was the second in her family to do mission work in China, as she was preceded by her sister Katherine, both serving under the auspices of our church, which at that time had a very small membership. Katherine soon married Dr. William Adolph, a biochemist, but they remained in China.  Minnie and Katherine’s brother Dave Witmer and wife Elizabeth were also very dedicated members of Donegal. The Witmers lived on a farm just about a mile down the Donegal Creek.

Minnie had been forced out of China earlier due to the Japanese invasion. One of the times she left she was able to bring out a very valuable large Chinese embroidered silk wall hanging that now is framed and can be seen in our church narthex.  Minnie admitted that to bring it with her she had to smuggle it out in her underwear.  But her greatest gift to her church was the legacy received in 1988.

Minnie’s final years were spent at a number of Presbyterian Church homes for retired pastors and missionaries, though she visited here whenever possible. She died in 1985 at 90 years of age. Perhaps because of her living accommodations and her frugality, she was able to acquire the large sum that the church received, though there may have also been inherited funds from her family.

When the church received Minnie’s gift in 1988, the total sum was $180,000, a wonderful gift, certainly the largest Donegal had ever received. A committee was soon formed to establish an Endowment Fund that has been added to by many of our members over the years. But as good Christians should, the committee opted to give a large sum to Princeton Theological Seminary to establish scholarships for Asian seminary students. The stipulation was that only 80% of the earnings are to be used, with at least 15% to be added each year to the principal.

Donegal frequently receives expressions of thanks from students who received aid, and at least one visited here and spoke at a service. And our church too is now directly benefiting from Minnie’s wonderful generosity. We are truly grateful.                                         

Written by Mary Karnes