Christian Chronicle

Trust to distribute $35 million to Churches of Christ in Tennessee, Kentucky

Final court order deems non-instrumental congregations and related ministries as beneficiaries.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

A one-time traveling salesman born in small-town Kentucky before the start of the Civil War moved to Nashville, Tenn., in the early 20th century and started a successful apparel company.

In its heyday, R.W. Comer’s Washington Manufacturing Co. — best known for its DeeCee work clothing — employed more than 20,000 workers in two dozen-plus factories across the South.

Now, 75 years after Comer’s death, a trust that he and his sons established to benefit Churches of Christ is about to pay major dividends — roughly $35 million in all — to congregations in the two states that he called home.

A cappella Churches of Christ in Tennessee and Kentucky and related ministries will split proceeds from the fund established by the Comer family in 1936, The Christian Chronicle has learned.

“Within the next few days, every qualifying Church of Christ in Tennessee and Kentucky will receive a letter containing instructions, which must be followed within the allotted time in order to receive a distribution from the Trust,” William Tucker, assistant vice president for the major gift program and estate planning support at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., confirmed in an email to the Chronicle.

“Every congregation, whether large or small, will receive the same amount from the Comer Trust,” Tucker noted.

If $35 million were split equally among the 2,000 Churches of Christ in those two states, it would amount to $17,500 per congregation.

A trust fund letter received by multiple churches and reviewed by the Chronicle indicated that the trustee does not expect “appreciably more than 2,000” beneficiaries.

“I’m very thankful that he and his two sons had the foresight to set up the trust,” Jack S. Dugger Jr., the fund’s trustee, said of his great-grandfather and great-uncles. “Resources that were put into the trust have grown significantly over the last 70-plus years, and we’re able to now make a significant contribution to the congregations due to his generosity.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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