Year End Gift Ideas

Year-end giving helps Soulforce continue to fight Spiritual Violence and helps you save on taxes.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving. Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significantly reduce their income taxes for the year.

Example: If you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2009, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you are in the 33% tax bracket. And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift. (A gift of $10,000 fully covers the cost of one National Direct Action.)

Giving is, of course, much more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. Philanthropy provides the meaningful difference in what we can do. As people of (any) faith, we need to give and work for a better tomorrow for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people everywhere.

Please discuss your year-end tax planning with your accountant or other professional advisor.

Gifts of Cash

There is no easier way to obtain a charitable deduction and support Soulforce at the same time than by simply writing a check. Make sure your envelope is postmarked by December 31; if it is, your gift will qualify as the current year gift even if it is not received by Soulforce until the first week of the new year. Mail your check to Soulforce, P.O. Box 2499 Abilene, Texas  79604.

If you itemize, your outright gifts of cash are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If your total gifts should exceed this limitation, the excess may be carried forward for tax purposes for up to five additional years.

Gifts of Stock

Year-end is an excellent time to consider a gift of stock. Giving longterm appreciated stock offers you two-fold tax savings. First, you avoid paying any capital gains tax on the increase in value of your stock. In addition, you receive a tax deduction for the full fair market value of the stock on the date of the gift. For income tax purposes the value of such gifts may be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income, with an additional five-year carry forward.

Example: If you purchased stock many years ago for $1000, and it is now worth $10,000, an outright gift of that stock to us would result in a charitable deduction of $10,000. In addition, you permanently avoid paying capital gains tax on the $9,000 of appreciation.

Gifts of Real Estate

If you have owned your home, a vacation home, acreage, or a farm for many years, a charitable gift of that real estate can be especially tax-advantageous. The property may have so appreciated in value over the years that its sale would result in a sizeable capital gains tax. If given to Soulforce instead, you avoid the tax and realize a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the real estate.

You may also wish to consider a gift of your personal residence or farm, reserving the right to continue to live in the house for life (and, the lifetime of your surviving partner). Through such an arrangement, you will be entitled to a current income tax deduction for a portion of the fair market value of the property. See your tax advisor for details.

Gifts of Life Insurance

If you own a life insurance policy that is no longer needed, consider it as the perfect vehicle for a year-end charitable gift!

To receive a charitable deduction, name us as both the owner and the beneficiary of the policy. If the policy has a cash value, you can take a charitable deduction approximately equal to the cash value at the time of the gift. In addition, if annual premiums are still to be made and you continue to pay them, those premiums will become tax deductible each year. It’s easy to contribute a life insurance policy to us. Just check with your life insurance agent for details on which forms to complete.

Life Income Gifts

If you are considering a major gift, your gift of cash or stock in the form of a "life income gift" can significantly increase your income.

A life income gift allows you to transfer assets now, and yet continue to receive income from the cash, stock, or other property contributed. A life income gift can allow you to: increase your income for life; receive a generous charitable contribution deduction this year; and if you contribute stock, avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation.

A life income gift is often made through a trust arrangement called a "unitrust" or an "annuity trust." with a unitrust, you and/or your spouse or other beneficiary receive annually a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the assets in the trust. The income received will vary from year to year, based on how the trust’s investments preform. With an annuity trust, you and/or your spouse or other beneficiary receive a fixed amount from the trust each year. This amount is agreed upon when you create the trust; it stays constant, no matter what happens with the stock market or interest rates.

If you have already considered a provision for us in your will, please note that a life income gift can often be preferable. Such a gift allows you to accomplish your goals during your lifetime and in a tax-advantaged way.

Bequests

While you’re considering your income tax savings, this may also be a good time to consider long-term tax savings, The federal estate tax can still take approximately 50% of one’s estate at the time of death. It pays to do some advance planning with your attorney and other professional advisors. Soulforce hopes you will consider a charitable bequest in your will to benefit the GLBT community while you save estate tax dollars at the same time

For more information

Be sure to check with your accountant, tax attorney, or other tax advisor for additional information on how these general rules apply to your situation. See which year end gift opportunities will be most advantageous for your particular situation.

Thank you for your support at year-end, and throughout the year!

Soulforce Responds to Discrimination at Southern Utah University

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: December 21, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
******************************************

(Minneapolis, MN) — Southern Utah University has denied a transgender student the right to apply for campus housing. Kourt Osborn, a former Soulforce Equality Rider, was informed last week that the University would not accept his application to live in men’s housing unless he provided a letter from a therapist with a diagnosis of gender identity disorder and official documentation that he has undergone sex reassignment surgery.

Soulforce joins other LGBT activist organizations around the country in decrying these standards as discriminatory, irrelevant, and intrusive.

"For an institution committed to research and critical thinking, Southern Utah University has shown itself to be surprisingly uninformed about transgender people," says Haven Herrin, Director of Soulforce Q.

"The university’s decision to treat being transgender as a medical issue is not in keeping with the majority of university policies, which tend to address being transgender as an identity issue," says Dr. Kristen Schilt, a sociologist at Rice University who studies transgender men in the workplace.

"By diverging from these generally accepted university guidelines, Southern Utah University is effectively penalizing a student for his decision to openly identify as transgender. It is difficult to imagine residential officials asking for documented proof in reference to other comparable personal identities, such as race or sexual orientation, which makes it appear that transgender students are being singled out in this situation."

According to Herrin of Soulforce, "this situation demonstrates that dialogue and education is needed at secular institutions, as well as avowedly religious schools. We continue to hope that they will use Kourt’s application as an occasion for campus-wide learning."

Osborn has filed a formal grievance with Southern Utah University.

Thirty leading universities have instituted gender-neutral housing options, including the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, and New York University. Resources for educators committed to building safe learning environments for all students — regardless of gender identity or expression — can be accessed through the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, the National Student Genderblind Campaign, Campus Pride, and www.equalityride.com.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Letter to Bishop T.D. Jakes

The American Family Outing

Letter to Bishop T.D. Jakes

December 3, 2007

Bishop T.D. Jakes
The Potter’s House
6777 West Kiest Boulevard
Dallas, Texas 75236

Dear Bishop Jakes and The Potter’s House,

As a new year approaches, thousands of parents across America share an urgent desire for dialogue on the topic of homosexuality and Christianity. Because so many look to you for leadership, you and your congregation are uniquely situated to contribute to a productive conversation on a topic that too often divides our families and our nation. I am writing today to offer a forum and an opportunity: On Saturday May 17th and Sunday, May 18th, 2008, my partner and I, along with our three children, will bring several dozen families from Texas and around the country to visit The Potter’s House. Our group of families will include many gay and lesbian parents and their children, as well as clergy and heterosexual families who have chosen to join us for this important visit. While the families who take part in the Soulforce American Family Outing will represent a diverse array of identities and faith backgrounds, we are all deeply committed to respect for the authority of Biblical teachings, compassion for the human condition, and peaceful interaction aimed at reaching new understanding.

The purpose of the American Family Outing is to lift up the conversation about faith, family and homosexuality to a national level and bring a new tenor of respect to the issue. We do not intend our visit to be confrontational or hardhearted. Rather, we believe that our families, and yours, are especially well-equipped to engage difficult topics through loving, prayerful, informed, and Christ-centered dialogue.

In order to make such a conversation possible, it is our hope that you will collaborate with us in structuring our time at your church. We invite The Potter’s House to match our families with an equal number of families from your congregation. We ask that these families share a meal together on Saturday, May 17th or Sunday, May 18th, followed by a structured format for meaningful conversation. Together, we can make this an educational, spiritual, and interpersonal experience for everyone involved. In addition to this structured conversation and meal together, we are also planning to attend your worship service on Sunday, May 18th. We trust the weekend will be a blessing to us all.

I know we may disagree on this very controversial topic and that it may not be easy to offer hospitality to the parents and children who are participating in the American Family Outing. We at Soulforce are called to be a part of a healing conversation, and that is what we believe can happen at The Potter’s House under your guidance. Please contact me via email or phone at any time, even beyond regular business hours, so that we can collaborate to create honest exchange and respectful fellowship. In doing so, we can stand united in love and strive toward true hope and prosperity for all God’s children.

Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, 2008, we will also seek peaceful dialogue with Rev. Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland; Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia; Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois; and Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Soulforce is joined in this effort by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the National Black Justice Coalition, and COLAGE. Leaders from these organizations have co-signed below to authenticate their enthusiasm for our upcoming meal, conversation, and worship at your church. We extend blessings to your congregation as we head into the Christmas season, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
www.soulforce.org

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair
Moderator’s Global Justice Team
Metropolitan Community Churches
www.mccchurch.org

Dr. Sylvia Rhue
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition
www.nbjcoalition.org

Meredith Fenton
Program Director
COLAGE
www.colage.org

cc: Lawrence Robinson, Derick Faison, Ronnie Guynes, Rita Twiggs, Kevin Caldwell, Rob Rocha, Timothy Ross, Bonnie Moon, Michael Exum, and Rodney Derrick

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Letter to Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.

The American Family Outing

Letter to Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.

December 1, 2007

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. & Pastor V. Michele Jackson
Hope Christian Church
PO Box 505
College Park, MD 20741-0505

Dear Bishop Jackson, Pastor V. Michele Jackson, and Hope Christian Church,

As a new year approaches, thousands of parents across America share an urgent desire for dialogue on the topic of homosexuality and Christianity. Because so many look to you for leadership, you and your congregation are uniquely situated to contribute to a productive conversation on a topic that too often divides our families and our nation. I am writing today to offer a forum and an opportunity: On Saturday May 24th and Sunday, May 25th, 2008, my partner and I, along with our three children, will bring several dozen families from Texas and around the country to visit Hope Christian Church. Our group of families will include many gay and lesbian parents and their children, as well as clergy and heterosexual families who have chosen to join us for this important visit. While the families who take part in the Soulforce American Family Outing will represent a diverse array of identities and faith backgrounds, we are all deeply committed to respect for the authority of Biblical teachings, compassion for the human condition, and peaceful interaction aimed at reaching new understanding.

The purpose of the American Family Outing is to lift up the conversation about faith, family and homosexuality to a national level and bring a new tenor of respect to the issue. We do not intend our visit to be confrontational or hardhearted. Rather, we believe that our families, and yours, are especially well-equipped to engage difficult topics through loving, prayerful, informed, and Christ-centered dialogue.

In order to make such a conversation possible, it is our hope that you will collaborate with us in structuring our time at your church. We invite Hope Christian Church to match our families with an equal number of families from your congregation. We ask that these families share a meal together on Saturday, May 24th or Sunday, May 25th, followed by a structured format for meaningful conversation. Together, we can make this an educational, spiritual, and interpersonal experience for everyone involved. In addition to this structured conversation and meal together, we are also planning to attend your worship service on Sunday, May 25th. We trust the weekend will be a blessing to us all.

I know we may disagree on this very controversial topic and that it may not be easy to offer hospitality to the parents and children who are participating in the American Family Outing. We at Soulforce are called to be a part of a healing conversation, and that is what we believe can happen at Hope Christian Church under your guidance. Please contact me via email or phone at any time, even beyond regular business hours, so that we can collaborate to create honest exchange and respectful fellowship. In doing so, we can stand united in love and strive toward true hope and prosperity for all God’s children.

Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, 2008, we will also seek peaceful dialogue with Rev. Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia; Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois; and Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Soulforce is joined in this effort by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the National Black Justice Coalition, and COLAGE. Leaders from these organizations have co-signed below to authenticate their enthusiasm for our upcoming meal, conversation, and worship at your church. We extend blessings to your congregation as we head into the Christmas season, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
www.soulforce.org

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair
Moderator’s Global Justice Team
Metropolitan Community Churches
www.mccchurch.org

Dr. Sylvia Rhue
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition
www.nbjcoalition.org

Meredith Fenton
Program Director
COLAGE
www.colage.org

cc: Brenda Williams, Pastor Rudy DePass, Pastor Dave Parlette, Dwight and Sonja Williams, Constance Lowe, Tony Walker, John Metcalfe, John Odukoya, Patricia & Guy Philamon

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