Vernon and Eva Lee Paysinger Endowment established to battle hunger

United Methodists of Arkansas are taking on the problem of childhood hunger in our state as part of a three-year Childhood Hunger Initiative, as addressed in the Practical Divinity column on page 3 of this issue. And thanks to the legacy of two generous saints, the cause of hunger relief has a new ally: an endowment designated for funding ministries that seek to end hunger.
 
The late Rev. Vernon and Eva Lee Paysinger dedicated their lives to Christian ministry. After the death of Mrs. Paysinger this summer, the $750,000 Vernon and Eva Lee Paysinger Endowment was established at the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA) to make grants to causes that work to eliminate hunger.
 
“Eva Lee and Vernon were life-long advocates for programs designed to eradicate hunger,” said Jim Argue, Jr., UMFA president, in a Sept. 9 news release. “They lived simply so that they could give to others abundantly. The income from their fund will be used each year to support hunger ministries, extending their legacy of giving far beyond their lifetimes.”
 
UMFA served as Trustee of the Paysingers’ revocable trust for many years, initially providing investment oversight, then assuming responsibility for household finances and finally overseeing in-home and later skilled nursing home health care.
 
The Paysingers grew up together as schoolmates and members of the Evening Shade UMC in Sharp County.
 
“Aunt Eva Lee and Uncle Vernon lived through the Depression,” said Rita Davis, who is married to a great-nephew of the Paysingers. “They didn’t have a lot back then, and probably at times they were hungry themselves.”
 
The Rev. David Orr, senior pastor at First UMC Searcy, knew the Paysingers for nearly 40 years.
 
“They were united in everything they did, and it was an inspiration,” he said. “There was a contentment about their lives that you could not miss. They felt blessed to be in the Lord’s service. They loved the people in their parishes. They enjoyed every town to which they were sent.”
 
After a lifetime of serving churches throughout Arkansas, the Paysingers retired in Batesville to be near family. “They were remarkably humble, remarkably committed and remarkably in love with Jesus Christ,” Orr said. “If they heard me say these things, they would shrug their shoulders, grin, and ask if I wanted a second slice of pie.”
 
UMFA manages $135 million in endowment funds and other charitable assets that benefit local churches and other United Methodist ministries. UMFA is one of the largest United Methodist Foundations in the country. Founded in 1963, UMFA is responsible for over 650 funds that support United Methodist ministries.