The organizational meeting of the H. C. Gemmer Family Christian Foundation, Incorporated was held on October 13, 1956 in Indianapolis. Immediately prior to that, H. C. Gemmer, an officer of the Empire Life Insurance Company, and his wife Edith decided to dispose of a farm on Post Road. The property had greatly appreciated in value as Indianapolis expanded toward it, and was sold for an estimated $100,000. Mr & Mrs Gemmer were devoted and active members in the Northwood Christian Church, and vigorous participants with the Disciples of Christ.
Their convictions were further expressed through their concern for world peace, sobriety, and temperance in private and public life. They supported efforts to achieve brotherhood and justice for all.
The minister son of the couple, Rev. H. Robert Gemmer, suggested use of the proceeds from the sale of the farm for a foundation to perpetuate the concerns of his parents. After consideration, the family decided that they could best continue the undergirding of their objectives by incorporating a foundation that included their very name.
Over the years, members of the Gemmer family have made additional contributions well over $60,000. To this have been added memorial gifts from deceased board members which, with certain reserves, have increased and sustained the Foundation's assets to the present level. Every six months, the board convenes to give away up to a dozen grants each time.
Board from the Beginning
The incorporators and first Board of Trustees were five in number: Mr. H. C. Gemmer, his wife Mrs. Edith Gemmer, their son Rev. H. Robert Gemmer, the Rev. William T. Pearcy, and the Rev. Laurence T. Hosie. Robert Gemmer was elected the first president, while H. C. Gemmer was elected as the first secretary-treasurer.
Changes in Board membership have come with the passing years. In 1961, Cassius Fenton was added as Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, and succeeded H. C. as Secretary-Treasurer in 1962. Dr. Pearcy retired in 1966 from the Board and Dr. Grover L. Hartman was elected to replace him. Mrs. Myrna Gemmer, wife of Robert, was elected into the Foundation's board to replace Edith upon her retirement. In 1975, Dr. T. J. Liggett was elected to board membership while he was the president of Christian Theological Seminary, followed by the admission to the board of the Gemmer children, their son Mr. David Gemmer & their daughter the late Mrs. Jean Gemmer McCutchan. With the retirement in 1979 of Dr. Hosie, the late Mrs. Marshall Tally, a longtime friend of Edith Gemmer, was elected.
In 1982, Grover Hartman's son Elden joined the board, and succeeded Grover as Executive Vice President upon his death in 1988. Also in 1988, Grover's wife Annabel and another son of theirs, Worth, were elected to the board. The year 1995 saw the election of Rev. John Hinant to the board, who currently serves as its vice president, and the Rev. Raymond Brown as secretary. The next election was in 2006, when Rev. Eric Brotheridge, Rev. Harold Watkins, and Marjorie Dilling were added. Four years later, the older son of Dr. Jean A. McCutchan was added, Eric D. McCutchan, who succeeded the late Dr. Brown as secretary in 2013. In 2011, Yvonne Dilling replaced her late mother Marjorie on the board.
The Articles of Incorporation define the purpose of the Foundation "to promote exclusively religious, charitable, and educational activities through organizations which have qualified for appropriate exempt status."
The Foundation Board considers the use of capital as an important means to further the founders' expressed purposes. Funds are therefore invested in enterprises which, although certainly financially sound, also foster those religious, charitable, and/or educational activities.
A policy statement with respect to grants was developed by the Foundation in 1961 and remains in force. It is below.
Whereas it is a sound principle of support that no agency should expect continuing annual grants when a project should as a result of the initial aid become self-sustaining;
Be it resolved that the following policy of the H. C. Gemmer Family Christian Foundation, Inc., be adopted as a general guide for the making of its grants:
In making grants to other tax-exempt organizations under our bylaws, we shall endeavor to make grants to:
A. Enable a new tax-exempt, worthwhile project to be undertaken by said organization, which probably could not have been started without said grant.
B. Ordinarily the same project will not be considered for additional support for more than two additional years. After three years of such support, it is assumed the project shall have demonstrated its value to be of sufficient extent to enable the organization receiving the grant to secure proper funding from normal and regular sources.
C. The above limitations apply only to specific projects and do not in any way prevent other projects of the same organizations from being equally considered along with other requests for new grants from the Foundation.
D. Grants may be given to new projects started by an organization on the basis of not more than three years to help the program demonstrate its value.
E. In rare cases, where an unusual situation is present, a one-time grant may be made for an established program of an organization that is in particular financial need.
F. In rare situations, where a commitment for the three possible years is requested at one time, the grant may be so made, payable annually and ordinarily in a decreasing amount.
After Five Decades
The record of the Gemmer Family Foundation constitutes a living memorial to H. C. & Edith Gemmer. Because Mr. & Mrs. Gemmer acted, many individuals have been encouraged to face life with renewed confidence; numerous organizations have been sustained in their programs of compassion, advocacy, & hope; the causes of world peace, abstinence from the use of alcohol, interracial fellowship, unity, and human relations have been generally advanced. Board members, grantees, and friends of the Gemmer Foundation join in thanksgiving for Mother and Father Gemmer, who loved God and included within their friendship and concern people of many religions, races, and nations.
The Foundation gratefully acknowledges contributions that have been received from persons outside the Gemmer family. Those desiring to strengthen our foundation in this way should send their gifts or correspond with Mr. Elden Hartman through the "Contact" page on this site.