In 2018, Timothy Plan founder Art Ally’s daughter, Cheryl, penned an article, “Why Art Ally Is Not THE Expert on Biblically Responsible Investing.” She briefly traced family history and offered some thoughts about why Timothy Plan was an idea whose time had come: “One thing you could count on is my dad never settled for mediocrity. He always looked ahead to see how he could improve his knowledge—and his family’s income. But it came at a cost—way too many moves and financial roles,” Cheryl remembers. “Since I was pretty much the only child at this point, I experienced all of the pro-life rallies and events my parents dragged me to. I honestly had no idea how awful abortion was. He cared for the unborn and was hoping it would impact me in some way.
“My father was like most men during the ’70s and ’80s. Sunday afternoons he would be relaxing in his recliner, watching football on television with a cold beer in his hand. In addition to being the master of making homemade vanilla ice cream, he perfected the art of piña coladas. Those are fond memories for me.
“During my senior year, the night before my prom, something tragic happened. A call came in the middle of the night. My brother was in a horrible accident involving alcohol, totaling his new white Mustang, near the west coast. He had broken his neck, was in a hospital, and required a halo brace to be screwed into his skull. My parents drove for hours to get to the hospital. It was at that moment my father banished any forms of alcohol in his home. He wanted to be a good example to those around him. This is partly what led him to be so passionate about the corporate screens we use today.”
There are so many stories to tell about the trials, blessings and miracles experienced by launching a Christian mutual fund, giving Christians an alternative to worldly investing—and the above is just one of them. This year, the Timothy Plan family of biblically based mutual funds is looking back on 25 years of being a pioneer in the field of Biblically Responsible Investing.
A Good Steward
Over the years, Art Ally took risks. He moved his family all over the U.S., reaching higher at every turn without compromising his convictions.
In 1992, at the age of 52, he risked everything. When he and his wife, Bonnie, decided to move in faith, sell their house, sell his financial practice and start the first biblically responsible mutual fund, it was an uncertain time. But that is the definition of faith. And without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Fast-forward to 2004, during Timothy Plan’s struggles, Ally felt called to take a leave and write a guide for people to truly understand what God says about money. He ended up authoring the Biblical Stewardship Series—a project about which he was so passionate that he sold the six-book series at cost after extensively training advisors to teach it to others. Today, the series is impacting the lives of home-schoolers in hopes of transforming the next generation.
The Power of a “Rifter”
Dave Hart, who now runs eVALUEator but has worked with Art since 1999 in some capacity, explains the magic behind Art’s entrepreneurial success: “Art is a rifter,” Dave says. “Walt Disney was a rifter—someone who finds a rift or gap in the status quo of business life and bets everything he has on it. Typically, they are very focused, driven people.
“A financial advisor walked into our office one day and asked, ‘Is Art as dogmatic-focused as he was in the beginning when he started this thing?’ I said, ‘Yes, he is.’ He said, ‘Good, because I wasn’t ready to hear it at that point, but I’m ready to hear it now.’”
Art wanted to open up a retirement plan for non-denominational churches because the Southern Baptists had one, the Methodists had one, the Presbyterians had one, the Catholics had dioceses, but non-denominational churches had nothing.
Art felt pastors needed some type of retirement fund. He started putting one together and discovered, every time, the available investment products were involved in something he could not ask a pastor to invest in. As a result, Art took leave from his business and started looking at company activities. Art spent two years developing a solution and soon realized the best option would be to start a mutual fund.
This involved finding willing investors to help fund the launch of a mutual fund—a difficult process. In fact, Cheryl recalls Art saying many times, “if I had any idea what I was going to go through to launch a mutual fund, I might never have done it.”
The move, however, paid off in the end for thousands of investors who, 25 years later, have over $1 billion in assets under management with Timothy Plan.