'Our parents have taught us'
A legacy is born of passion and care for future generations. Mark and Linda Barnett and their two teenage daughters, Taylor and Brenden, are living out their legacy by giving and helping others.
"Our parents have taught us that giving means nothing unless you give joyfully," said Taylor. "If it’s not from the heart, don’t do it, because it means nothing."
Mark and Linda’s choice to be faithful givers started early in their marriage. As with most young married couples, finances were tight, but a special family in their lives modeled for them what it means to be faithful stewards and to give generously.
"Spud and Lola Widener took us in as adopted grandchildren," said Mark. "They assured us as long as we were faithful in our tithing, everything else would always be taken care of."
After seminary, clergyman Mark was appointed to Oklahoma City University as the director of religious life. Mark and Linda developed a deep love for the students and university.
This season in their lives also was marked by the death of Mark’s father Marcus, also a clergyman, and their beloved friend Spud.
"As a way to honor my dad and Spud and Lola, we established the Barnett-Widener Ministerial Endowed Scholarship at Oklahoma City University," said Mark.
A few years later, they established the Linda and Mark Barnett Scholarship Fund through the Foundation. This provides scholarships for people to attend United Methodist camps and mission trips and funds church building projects.
As part of their regular giving, Mark and Linda make contributions to both funds, knowing lives will be impacted and changed. Recently Taylor and Brenden encouraged their parents to increase the family’s giving to those endowments.
"When we give to help others, we are blessed in return," said Taylor. "We give out of obedience, and God takes care of everything else."
"Giving is worth the risk," added Brenden. "We get a lot more out of it than what we actually give."
Mark is now the senior pastor at Wickline UMC in Del City.
(This story is an excerpt from the Foundation’s 2010 Annual Report. To request your copy of the report, contact the Foundation at 800-259-6863.)