Here’s the amazing story of how one man’s generosity and another’s insight and perseverance resulted in a gift to my parish, the Church of St. Mary and St. Martha in Toronto.
The Rev. Canon Donald Landon was a remarkable man. He served for 37 years as an Anglican priest at four parishes in the Diocese of Algoma. Upon his retirement, he returned to his childhood home in Toronto and set about to find a parish. He attended different churches each week and finally found what he was looking for at the Church of the Advent. He served there as honorary assistant and later as an interim priest-in-charge.
When Canon Landon died in 2012, we learned that, not only had he cared for and supported his five parishes during his lifetime, but he also left them a legacy that would continue to support them after his death. Each congregation received a significant financial bequest with the condition that endowments be established so that the money would be invested and only the interest used by the parish. He also left specific items to the Church of the Advent, including his grandfather’s 100-year-old coin collection, with the instructions that after valuation they be “sold at the highest possible market price” with the proceeds added to The Landon Endowment, to be established as a memorial to his parents.
The coins were evaluated at $260,400 and an offer was received to purchase them for that amount. While the other executors may have accepted the offer, our beloved Norman Baker ODT, (also one of the executors,) held fast to Canon Landon’s wish to have the coins sold at the highest possible market price. That required cataloguing the massive collection. Mr. Baker and his daughter Karen spent a year cataloging the coins, readying them for auction. What a gift of time and talent!
In 2015, the Landon Estate collection was sold at public auction, the net proceeds of which were more than $1.2 million. This was added to the amount of the original bequest and invested with the Diocese of Toronto’s Consolidated Trust Fund. With the amalgamation of four parishes that included the Church of the Advent, the Landon Endowment came to St. Mary and St. Martha.
The parish receives an annual distribution of about $60,000 from the Landon Endowment, allowing us to invest in ministry, personnel or innovative programming. Legacy giving can be transformative as it helps secure the promise of ministry for years to come. It is a testament to one’s values and one’s beliefs.
The following words from a sermon delivered by Canon Landon in 2003 and shared at St. Mary and St. Martha’s first vestry meeting ring true for us today: “The Advent’s story calls us to play our part today in maintaining and enhancing what we’ve inherited. It calls us to give generous financial support so that what Christ has for us to do can be adequately funded. It calls for a clear vision and dedicated endeavours so that the service and outreach of this congregation will be carried forward for Christ’s glory and the sharing of His amazing love.”