Jun 11, 2024 Print This Article

Giving cheerfully with confidence

Ken and Jo Voertman have lived on the East Coast, in the middle of the country and on the West Coast. No matter where they have lived, they can look back on their lives and see the many benefits of being cheerful givers.

The couple now live in a beautiful retirement community in Carlsbad, Calif. They love living beneath the palm trees by a sandy beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Their faith is central to their daily lives. For more than 20 years, almost every Monday morning, Ken has met with the same men’s Bible study group. Jo attends a women’s Bible study group at their church, Redeemer by the Sea Lutheran Church, where her pastor recently led a discussion about the early church apostles.

“All my pastors have been dedicated men of God,” says Jo, who grew up in a church-going family that taught her how to tithe at a young age. “I would get 50 cents a week and a nickel went to God.”

She was taught to always give to God, and she brought that mindset into her marriage. When it came time for the newlyweds to set up their first budget, Ken was skeptical of his young bride’s emphasis on tithing. He thought, “That’s a lot of money for the church.” But to Jo, “It was only 10% of what we earned.” She wanted to give even more. While money was tight for the Voertmans, God provided.

Even though Ken questioned how much to give to God at the beginning of their lives together, he is now the steward of the family’s giving. He willingly shares the benefits he has seen from tithing over the years. He encourages people to have faith to tithe and to watch God entrust more to them.

“There are still so many people who do not believe and need to be reached.”

Jo Voertman

After getting married at Jo’s home church in Mount Rainier, Md., a suburb of Washington, D.C.,  the Voertmans moved to St. Louis. Ken became chairman of a stewardship campaign at the Church of the Reformation and the couple helped as offering counters each Sunday. “As we were counting money after the service one day, we were talking to other people there and it became obvious that people who tithed very seldom seemed to have money problems,” Ken observed. “God does not promise that we will not have money problems, but try cheerful giving. It is amazing how God provides!”

For most of his life, Ken was a mechanical engineer. His first major project was designing the monorails for the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65. Jo graduated from Fontbonne University and completed her student teaching at Lutheran High School South, where she later worked as a home economics teacher after college graduation.

In the early 1980s, the couple remembers hearing a message from a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) fundraising initiative at their church that really resonated with them. It went something like this: If we want our pulpits and schools staffed, someone needs to educate people for that purpose.

“We agreed with that and took it to heart,” Jo says. As a way of helping, the couple began giving to the LCMS program. Their gifts grew as their income increased. “This is one of the blessings of tithing,” shares Jo.

When Ken’s work relocated the couple to California, their income grew and they continued generously giving to the Lord’s mission. Now both retired and seeing a considerable number of pastors retiring throughout the church, Jo says the couple wants to help. “If you have an empty pulpit, that doesn’t do much good,” she says. “So, you have to help provide for the education of future pastors.”

That is the main reason why the Voertmans began giving to Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. They now support the Seminary through annual giving, which allows the Seminary to use their contributions where needed most. In 2022, the couple even challenged other donors to match their Call Day gift!

“It is amazing how God provides!”

Ken Voertman

The Voertmans have committed themselves to helping prepare future pastors, who will fill those empty pulpits so the Gospel message can be shared around the world.

Next year, the couple will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, and they plan to continue giving cheerfully and with confidence. “You cannot outgive God. He is generous, so we are generous,” Jo says. “God taught me about being generous. There are still so many people who do not believe and need to be reached.”

Christie Hampton is a communications specialist at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.