Church hopes generosity of former parishoner will bless community

CHESTER-A Chester church is hoping that the generosity of a former parishioner will enable it to be a blessing to others.

Westminster Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Indiana Avenue and Fifth Street, learned recently that it was the recipient of a “major donation” from the estate of former member Richard B. Rabenstein, who died in March 2012 at age 78.

“We’re very pleased and very humbled that the gentleman has left this money to us,” said Harry Comm, church elder and chairman of the church’s endowment committee.

With the bequest, whose amount the church is not disclosing, Westminster has established an endowment that will be used to fund grants to qualifying local organizations, Comm said.

The source of the bequest was a charitable remainder unitrust that Rabenstein had established.

“We think it will help bless this community,” Comm said, noting that the church is investing the bequest and using the proceeds to support social welfare activities in the Chester area.

The church is distributing the money in two ways-through a one-time grant that will be distributed in August and through an ongoing, annual grant that will require a separate application.

Comm said the church is “tithing” a portion of the bequest and using that money to support local organizations this year. Application deadline is June 30.

“We took the tithe out and invested the balance,” Comm said.

Applications for future annual gifts from the endowment will be due by Dec. 31 of each calendar year beginning this year, he said. Those grants will be announced in the first or second quarter of the year.

Westminster has set up a special committee to monitor the management of the funds and to review applications. The church session, a governing body comprising 12 members, decided to establish the endowment with the bulk of the proceeds of the bequest, Comm said.

Rabenstein and his brother, Albert, were born in East Liverpool and raised in Chester, where they were members of the church until they moved to Washington, Pa. “I knew (Robert) when I was a kid. He lived here in town,” Comm said.

The Rabensteins’ father, Albert Sr., was superintendent of Hancock County Schools from 1935 until his retirement in 1952.

Both Rabenstein brothers attended Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., and had careers in academia-Robert at Duquesne University and Albert at his alma mater, where he chaired the mathematics department until his retirement in 1990.

Robert worked at Duquesne for 48 years, retiring in 2005 as a senior accounting clerk.

Albert Jr., an M.I.T. graduate and the author of two mathematics textbooks, including “Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations” (1966), preceded his brother in death by nine days.

Grant applications are available at the church between 9 a.m. and noon Monday through Thursday. To have a copy mailed, call the church at 304-387-2003 or email the church at: