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How one legacy honoured three ministries

Funds from Jane Campbell’s bequest supported her parish church of Holy Trinity Thornhill, the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s Indigenous programs, and food relief in East Africa with PWRDF.

September 14, 2023

By Jacqueline Tucci

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Jane Campbell (photo courtesy of Holy Trinity, Thornhill)

By all accounts, Jane Campbell led an exciting life filled with travel and music. She went on several safaris, skied in the Swiss Apps, visited Paris, Rio, Colorado and more. When Campbell died in November 2020 at age 87, her obituary also described her love of the piano.

“Mozart, Beethoven, Bach; she could play them all, and play them well! Jane continued to take lessons throughout her adult life. In fact, she believed you could never ‘master’ the piano. You could only sharpen your skills. She was still taking lessons well into her seventies and it wasn’t until she carried an oxygen tank that she gave up her beloved lessons.”

Jane had a zest for life, but when she left a generous bequest of $1.7 million to PWRDF, the Anglican Foundation of Canada and her parish church of Holy Trinity in Thornhill, Ont., including over $600,000 designated to PWRDF, it was a surprise to many.

Nancy Cutler is a warden at Holy Trinity who knew Campbell in her later years. She remembers Campbell as an active member of the church’s congregation and the Rebecca ACW group, and would often attend seniors’ luncheons before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[PWRDF] has always had a soft spot in the hearts of many parishioners at Holy Trinity. They seem to make a concerted effort [to support PWRDF], and over the years we have had speakers from PWRDF come and talk with us. It is information that is regularly shared throughout the parish, so it may just be part of the DNA. It obviously was important to her,” Cutler said.

Campbell’s bequest to PWRDF was specifically allocated to projects in East Africa and those with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In East Africa, conflict and ongoing drought are threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions, and the need is dire. PWRDF is supporting our partners responding with emergency relief, and Campbell’s bequest will help us to continue funding these life-saving efforts.

Campbell’s generous gift will also support PWRDF’s Indigenous partners in Canada. The Indigenous Responsive Grant Fund was created in 2021 in consultation with our Indigenous Program Advisory Committee (IPAC). Through this fund, Indigenous-led communities or organizations can apply for grants of between $5,000 and $15,000. The fund allows PWRDF to respond quickly to funding needs and priorities identified by Indigenous communities and organizations, and to support stand alone and pilot projects for longer-term programming that benefit Indigenous communities.

“PWRDF is so grateful for the gifts from Jane Campbell,” said PWRDF Executive Director, Will Postma. “Her gifts demonstrate care and compassion in such respectful ways. These are life-saving and life-honouring gifts.”

Cutler speculated that working with Canada’s Indigenous communities may have been particularly important to Campbell and continues to matter to parishioners at Holy Trinity.

“Over the years, Holy Trinity has made efforts to support Canadian Indigenous communities. We worked with the Living Waters group and continue to do outreach and donate to [the Mishamikoweesh Water] project. That was very important,” Cutler said. She added that this support was direct and also at times through PWRDF.

Campbell’s interest in Indigenous programs may have begun over a decade ago, during a time when the Right Reverend Terry Finlay was the interim priest at Holy Trinity. Archbishop Finlay was actively involved in the church’s formal acknowledgment of and apologies for the Anglican church’s role in the residential school system and other offences against Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

“In those days we did some specific things [to fundraise and raise awareness]. We used to sell hotdogs for water projects in northern Ontario. That kind of thing was going on and may have registered with Jane,” Cutler said.

Campbell’s contributions to the advancement of Indigenous programming did not end with PWRDF. Her bequest to the Anglican Foundation of Canada directly funded their 2022 Request for Proposals for Indigenous Ministries. Originally authorizing $100,000 for disbursement, a review of the scope and impact of included projects prompted the Foundation to unanimously approve additional funding. With the added funds from Campbell’s bequest, a total of $216,000 was disbursed in support of Indigenous Ministries, and awarded to 22 recipients – making 2022 the Foundation’s most impactful year for Indigenous programming.

“It was Jane Campbell’s generosity that resulted in [the Anglican Foundation of Canada’s] most supportive year yet for Indigenous Ministries,” said Dr. Scott Brubacher, Executive Director of the Foundation. “Her contribution to our ongoing efforts to support the Indigenous church, and the path to reconciliation, cannot be overstated.”

Some programs that were funded by the Campbell’s bequest to the foundation included a Blackfoot translation project in Calgary, Alta., an oral history preservation project in the Arctic, a play in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land and a reconciliation and suicide prevention program for youth in Brandon, Man.

In addition to her gifts to PWRDF and the Anglican Foundation of Canada, Campbell also left bequests to Holy Trinity’s endowment fund, and the cemetery fund.

The Cemetery at Holy Trinity Church in Thornhill, ON

The endowment fund is invested and the interest from the funds can be used annually on projects such as church upkeep, or can be donated to initiatives supported by the diocese. With Campbell’s bequest, the accessible funds will grow substantially, which is great news for the nearly 200-year-old Holy Trinity.

“It’s a parish that has been around for a long time,” said Cutler. “There are always things that need repair and upkeep.”

In the past, money in the endowment fund has been used to replace the roof, repair the parking lot, upgrade doors and locks, and fix the heating and cooling systems. It has been used for outreach, supporting the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and local Out of the Cold programs.

The cemetery, which dates back to 1832, requires maintenance on the grounds and tombstones. Cutler speculates that Campbell may have had some past involvement with parish finances and was therefore aware of the cemetery fund and the need.

Archbishop Linda Nicholls was Rector at Holy Trinity Thornhill from August 1991 to February 2005 and remembers Campbell and her parents well. “Jane was very faithful in worship attendance. She watched out for her parents who were quite elderly. She took good care of her parents and was a ready volunteer, always helping out at parish events.

“When I learned that Jane had quietly made arrangements in her will for significant generosity to PWRDF, the Anglican Foundation and her parish – especially the cemetery fund – I was delighted and surprised as she never spoke publicly about her plans,” Nicholls said. Nicholls wondered if perhaps her parents were buried at the cemetery.

“Jane’s faithfulness is demonstrated by choosing to support charities that reflected her values as an Anglican, recognizing the unique opportunities that PWRDF, the Anglican Foundation and her parish can fulfill. It’s wonderful that she found a way to contribute beyond the parish.”

Regardless of the specific motivations for Campbell’s generosity, the bequest will go a long way for Holy Trinity.

Holy Trinity Church in Thornhill, Ont.

With Campbell’s bequest “the [cemetery] committee can do proper planning and proper maintenance,” Cutler said. It also “improved our overall efficiency and flexibility and helped with our outreach, of who we could help and with how much we could help them,” said Cutler.

“The impact on Holy Trinity of her bequest was significant, it just wasn’t direct. It enabled Holy Trinity to be much more efficient in its management of funds which allows more funds to go into outreach and maintenance.”

By leaving a bequest in your will, the work and organizations that you’re passionate about will carry on and become your legacy. Learn more about how you can leave a legacy.