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Our Third Child: The Christian Church

Our Third Child: The Christian Church
Judy and Ernie O'Donnell

You my friend, a stranger once, do now belong to heaven. Once far away, you are brought home into God's family, "When you do this, remember me." --David Edwards
This reference to Christ's table, excerpted from the communion hymn that David Edwards fashioned from the thoughts of Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the Disciples of Christ, epitomizes the spirit of giving for the Rev. B. Ernest O'Donnell '52 and his wife, Judy. Self-avowed "church groupies," Ernie and Judy are committed to making the world, and the church within it, a better place.

"Communion is a celebration of the resurrection by being the community that Christ calls us to be bringing in the marginal, the poor, and caring for those for whom Christ cared," Judy says. "In that spirit, we have tried to have our home, our family, our travel and our use of our resources reflect the table to which all are invited."

Ernie found community with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as a young teenager. Attending Chapman felt for him like a natural extension of his church youth group.

"Chapman was my home away from home for four years," Ernie says. "It was a real Christian community and the friends I made are still my friends after 60 years."

When they heard a speaker at their church suggest that the church requires the same social, spiritual and financial nurturing as does a child, the O'Donnells were inspired.

"In our will, we have included the church as our third child," Judy says. "We actively support our first two children and grandchildren, as well as our retirement church home, University Christian Church, Fort Worth, and its mission activities."

In making their estate plans, the O'Donnells directed the Christian Church Foundation to divide the "church" part to support each of their seminaries, the Disciples Peace Fellowship and the Disciples on Campus (DOC) scholarships at Chapman University. Chapman's DOC scholarship program provides significant financial assistance to students associated with Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ.

"We love thinking about this and our relationship with each of these communities that have inspired us through the years," Judy says.

Click to learn more about bequests at Chapman University. For more personal service, contact David B. Moore (M.A. '09), assistant vice president for legacy planning, at (714) 516-4590 or dmoore@chapman.edu.


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