He was a young graduate student studying on a Princeton Seminary fellowship in England at Cambridge University when James Aydelotte met his wife, Margaret.
“She was on faculty and I was a lowly graduate student,” he remembers. “She outranked me.”
Nevertheless, the couple went on to enjoy a marriage of more than 50 years, a journey of teaching and sustained interest in the world. The couple started a study program in London for students in a rural Missouri college where James taught, and they enjoyed introducing students to a different culture.
James, a Presbyterian minister, and Margaret – raised in the Church of England – found a shared church home in a Lutheran congregation near their first home in Missouri. He was invited to serve as an interim pastor of a Lutheran congregation during the regular pastor’s illness.
“That’s when I learned I really like Lutherans,” he said.
It is also where he discovered the work of Lutheran World Relief.
“I think their work around the world, particularly in developing countries, drew me in,” he said. “I have come to think that the so called first world doesn’t pay as much attention to the rest of the planet as it should, and I liked what they, LWR, was doing about it.”
James and Margaret supported Lutheran World Relief regularly over the years, and made the decision to leave a lasting gift in their wills.
“Back when I served churches I had an annual pitch to people to make a will, and I used to say, ‘if you don’t have a plan for what should happen with your assets, the local state does’,” James said.
Margaret’s death six years ago resulted in a compassionate contribution from her retirement earnings to reach neighbors in need.
“Our children are doing well, so we wanted to make sure our assets would be helpful to others,” he said, inviting others to make a similar arrangement. “LWR will need to work long after we're gone, and they need the resources to do that. If you can care for your family, why not put LWR in your will? It also avoids a lot of problems with taxes.”
James is now remarried to a fellow pastor, Susan Denne. “Loneliness is all it’s cracked up to be,” he says with the assurance that comes from experience. “We’re both pastors but we have more than church to talk about when we’re at the breakfast table.”
Now retired in North Carolina, James remains interested in the world and finding ways to address suffering, knowing that his choice to make a generous, lasting gift will serve neighbors in need for years to come.
“Suffering anywhere is going to affect everyone everywhere,” he said. “People are really in need. We just need to share more of what we have with people in need.”
Your love for neighbors can last beyond a lifetime
Today, please take the time to consider your estate plan, and how you can be a godsend to neighbors in need through a gift in your will. Learn more.