Bob & Muriel Griffin Take Out 30th Gift Annuity as a Way to Support Student Scholarships
In December of last year, Bob (GBI '61) and Muriel Griffin took out their 30th gift annuity at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. They have been taking out gift annuities for 24 years for two reasons. First, they want to help current students attend seminary without accruing substantial debt, and second, they want to show their appreciation to Garrett-Evangelical for the scholarship Bob received when he was earning his master of divinity degree. The money from their annuities goes toward the general scholarship fund.
"We took out our first gift annuity as a way to thank Garrett-Evangelical for my scholarship when I was a student there from 1958 to 1961," Bob said. "We have kept on taking out annuities because students continue to need scholarships."
"His scholarship meant a lot to him and to me in that he didn't start his ministry being in debt," Muriel added. "We did not make much as pastors, and having debt would have been really hard. I imagine it would be even harder today."
In addition to supporting current students and expressing their appreciation, the Griffins have two more reasons for supporting Garrett-Evangelical through their gift annuities.
"Garrett-Evangelical is a place that will use our money well," Muriel said.
"A gift annuity is a wonderful way to support any work you want to support because you can give the gift, and the return on the gift is quite amazing," Bob said. "That is a very nice part of the annuity."
Bob and Muriel first met at Iowa State University, where Bob majored in general science and Muriel majored in education. Bob knew he wanted to become a minister, and
the general science degree allowed him to take courses in sociology, psychology, English, speech, and religious education. The year before he finished Iowa State, Bob was accepted at Garrett Biblical Institute, but one day in his senior year, he heard a speaker from the Wesley Foundation talk about the need for educated people to go to third world countries. His plans changed.
"I ended up going to Liberia and teaching science and math courses at the College of West Africa," said Bob, who graduated from Iowa State in 1954. Although they were not dating at the time, Muriel followed a year later after she graduated. She worked as a dorm parent, responsible for some of the women who attended the College of West Africa. Later, she taught home economics at the College.
Somewhere between Ames, Iowa and Liberia, the couple fell in love, Bob said. Bob returned to the United States first and started to attend Garrett Biblical Institute in the fall of 1958. A year later, Muriel joined him. They married in December 1958 and lived in the student apartments.
Bob enjoyed his time at Garrett. "I really admired the faculty," he said. "They did a tremendous job of teaching in their respective fields, and I learned an awful lot from them. It was good preparation for the ministry."
After Bob graduated in 1961, he was appointed to the Council Bluffs Community Church in Iowa as a member of the Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. They served there for six years until 1967. They moved to Des Moines, where they brought three churches together to form the Inner City Cooperative Parish.
During their four-year tenure there, Bob and Muriel learned about the Ecumenical Institute in Chicago, a world-wide organization that helps churches respond to the needs of society and provides ways for them to become more active in their local parishes. They were granted a year of sabbatical study to work with the Ecumenical Institute and moved to Chicago. At the end of the year, inspired by their work there, they asked to stay on.
"We kept asking to extend another year, and we ended up extending it for 26 years," Bob said. During that time, Bob and Muriel lived and worked in Oklahoma City, Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, Korea, Alberta, and Washington, D. C.
Among other duties, Bob and Muriel ran weekend seminars called Religious Studies One, held in churches and communities around the country and eventually, the world. The Friday- night, all-day Saturday, and Sunday-morning format helped people grapple with their understanding of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, Bob said. Participants also learned about being part of a church. "It was a very moving experience," Bob said.
In addition to the seminars, the couple ran workshops that helped communities plan for their future. Both Muriel and Bob found that work rewarding. "I am proud of the times we helped people decide what they wanted to do, build an action plan, and execute it," Muriel said.
In 1994, the couple returned to Iowa and began serving in a church again. Four years later, they retired and moved to Indianola, Iowa.
They started taking out annuities at Garrett-Evangelical after they retired and have been doing so since. "It just seemed like the appropriate thing to do," Bob said.
Currently, the couple lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts. They have five daughters, one in Iowa and four in Massachusetts.
If you would like more information on gift annuities, please contact Rev. Dr. David Heetland, senior vice president for planned giving at [email protected] or 847.866.3970.