UMC Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative Priorities
Low-Interest Clergy Debt Refinancing
Many clergy find themselves carrying burdensome debt, whether from educational or personal expenses. The Initiative is working with annual conferences and United Methodist institutions to expand opportunities for low-interest debt refinancing for clergy.
Models of Success: Three organizations have launched successful low-interest debt refinancing programs for clergy: Iowa United Methodist Foundation, New England Preacher’s Aid Society, and the United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina. Based on the success of these programs, we are encouraging other annual conference institutions to consider similar programs. Please contact us to learn more.
Financial Education Integration in Clergy Training
The Initiative recognizes the impact of financial literacy on pastoral effectiveness and leadership. Personal financial well-being and leadership skills to manage church finances are essential. Our goal is to expand the financial stewardship training provided before ordination so that clergy are prepared for the financial responsibilities of their first appointments. To that end, we offer grants to Boards of Ordained Ministry to strengthen personal and church financial stewardship training for clergy during Residency/Provisional programs as well as in the conference's Eight-Year Assessment Process.
Financial Well-Being Program
Clergy need access to resources that offer personal, faith-based financial education. Using a well-tested program, the Initiative is developing a Wesleyan personal financial well-being curriculum that will make an excellent ministry tool for members of the congregation and the wider community. It will also include a clergy module so they can focus on areas such as clergy taxes, housing allowances, and other clergy-specific financial issues.
Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship
Amount: $2,500 – $12,500
Since 2017, this scholarship helps future clergy avoid student debt. Designated for full-time master of divinity students enrolled at a United Methodist seminary/schools of theology, applicants must be pursuing certified candidacy or be a certified candidate for ministry (elder or deacon), with demonstrated merit and commitment. Applicants use this scholarship to avoid additional student loans. Requirements include demonstrating merit and completion of financial literacy elements through the EY Financial Planning Center. The scholarship amount is based on matching donations and approval from scholarship partners which could be one or more of the following:
Wespath's Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative funds
General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Seminary/School of Theology where the student is enrolled
The student’s annual conference (if participating as a matching donor to the program)
The United Methodist Foundation connected with the student’s annual conference (if participating as a matching donor to the program)
Visit the GBHEM Scholarship web page and look under “Ministry as a Career Scholarships.”
Pilot Project Grants
Since 2017, the Initiative provides grants to increase clergy financial literacy through financial education across the country. Projects range from less than 20 to over 200 participants with funding up to $25,000. United Methodist foundations have been important partners in many of these projects. These projects are collaborative endeavors with required matching financial contributions from at least one additional partner.
Pilot programs funded to date
Grant application guidelines
For more information, contact Bonnie Marden at ClergyFinance@wespath.org.