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 Western North Carolina Foundation. 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 importance of financial education for clergy as they embark on a life of service and ministry. There is need to focus on personal financial well-being and the leadership skills to manage church finances. Our vision is to ensure that clergy are receiving training during the ordination process so that they are prepared for the financial challenges and opportunities that come with leading in their first appointments. To that end, we are encouraging pilot project grants to Boards of Ordained Ministry to begin incorporating personal and church financial management for clergy during Residency programs as well as in the Eight-Year Assessments.

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

Started in 2017, this scholarship program helps future clergy avoid student debt. It emerged from this Initiative and is designated for full-time master of divinity students enrolled at one of the 13 United Methodist seminaries/schools of theology. Applicants must be pursuing certified candidacy or be a certified candidate for ministry (elder or deacon), with demonstrated merit, progress and commitment in the candidacy process. Applicants should show demonstrated financial need and how this scholarship will help avoid additional student loans. Applicants will receive and must participate in assistance from a financial counselor from the EY Financial Planning Center. The award amount is based on matching donations and award approval from participating donors which could be one or more of the following:

  • Lilly Endowment National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders
  • 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)

Scholarship button goes here.

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 (link to document with list of projects or drop down to make it easier to add projects as they are funded?)

Grant application guidelines (link to PDF)

For more information, contact Bonnie Marden at

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