Bernie and Joyce McNickle: A Legacy of Generosity
Throughout almost seven decades, Bernie and Joyce McNickle have been members of Christian (Disciples of Christ) congregations. Their spiritual, family and social lives have been grounded in the church. Long-time members of Harvard Avenue Christian Church in Tulsa, the couple now calls First Christian Church in Edmond their church home, as it has been for 25 years. At each of the four Disciples churches where they placed their membership, Bernie and Joyce served in multiple leadership roles - from youth sponsors to board members to elders to congregational moderator, and currently Elders Emeriti. According to the McNickles, the outreach programs of their church homes - together with the mission-orientation of the ministers - have had a tremendous influence in shaping their commitments to how they believe Christ would have them live and serve.
Bernie and Joyce grew up on farms near small towns in western Oklahoma and were high school sweethearts. Just after the end of World War II, they married and moved to Oklahoma City, where Bernie began working as a clerk for the company the couple would later acquire. They opened a branch in Tulsa in 1949, where they lived and raised their family until 1984. Their acquisition of the business and an expansion led them back to Oklahoma City and the business headquarters.
In 1999, they met with an estate-planning attorney and designated 10% of their estate (after final costs) to establish a fund for the benefit of First Christian Church in Edmond (FCC Edmond). Although a state-of-the-art plan at the time, the McNickles subsequently realized they needed to update their plan.
In early 2014, FCC Edmond developed a program, Disciples4Water, sending a mission team to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to drill wells and train the local citizens how to drill and maintain additional wells. Bernie says he and Joyce observed not only changes in the lives of those who went on the mission trip, but also an increased spirit of generosity among the entire congregation. Inspired by their participation in the funding of that mission trip, Bernie and Joyce believe Christ is working through FCC Edmond to effect positive change. They have committed to continue using their resources to allow such mission work to endure.
With that in mind, in late 2014, the McNickles updated their estate plan to a revocable trust and placed $200,000 with Oklahoma Disciples Foundation to establish an endowment fund. The newly-established First Christian Church Edmond Mission Endowment Fund benefits the church for the planning and execution of mission trips similar to Disciples4Water. Bernie and Joyce's revocable trust calls for the balance of 10% of their estate to be contributed to that endowment. The endowment fund does not bear their names, as the McNickles hope others will recognize the broad scope of their intent and be motivated to help grow the endowment and support missions. In addition, they hope others will emulate their designation of 10% of their estate to provide income for the church's mission trips in perpetuity.
Their son and daughter, Norman McNickle and Vicki McNickle Rose, have made a gift to the FCC Mission Endowment Fund in honor of their parents in celebration of Mother's and Father's Day. Also, in recognition of their parents' family focus, the donation is only the first made on behalf of "the children and grandchildren of Bernie and Joyce McNickle." Vicki (who - full disclosure - works for the Foundation as Director of Operations) noted their parents' decreased need for and interest in things such as cards, flowers, gifts, plants: "Mother and Dad have always been all about their family, their faith and giving back, and our intention is to honor their legacy."
"In every congregation there are always a handful of quiet, steady leaders. People who are asked to serve the church because they are trusted and respected. People who have influence regardless of the positions they hold. These leaders get things done. They are faithful in Christ's service. Bernie and Joyce are two of those people. Leading by example, their generosity has and will, in perpetuity, change lives around the world." - Eric S. Gray, Executive Director, Oklahoma Disciples Foundation