UMC Clergy Financial Well-Being Initiative Priorities
Low-Interest Clergy Debt Refinancing
Many clergy carry burdensome debt, whether from educational or personal expenses, which often hinders their ministries. The Initiative is partnering with annual conferences and United Methodist institutions to create opportunities for low-interest debt refinancing for clergy.
Models of Success: Several organizations have launched successful low-interest debt refinancing programs for clergy:
- Iowa United Methodist Foundation’s H.E.L.P. Loans
- The HELP Program of the New England Preachers’ Aid Society
- The United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina
The Florida UM Foundation has also created a pilot ministry to refinance clergy debt. Other foundations are in the process of establishing debt refinancing services.
Based on the success of these programs, we encourage other annual conference institutions to consider similar programs. Please contact us to learn how Wespath can support your efforts.
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.
Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being
Clergy need access to resources that offer personal, faith-based financial education. That is why the Initiative developed Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being. This exciting new partnership between Wespath and Abingdon Press draws on the expertise of United Methodist leaders across the connection through videos, a workbook, a leader guide and devotional materials. With study sessions for both pastors and laity, participants will explore money management from a Wesleyan perspective helping you reach personal financial goals as well as address life concerns. Visit Cokesbury today to learn more about this essential resource for clergy and congregations.
Excellence in Clergy Leadership Scholarship
Amount: $2,500 – $10,000
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:
- 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." Please contact Allyson Potts at GBHEM if you would like to become a sponsor.
Pilot Project Grants
From 2017 to 2020, the Initiative provided 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. The 2021 grant focus is to integrate Saving Grace in clergy training programs.
For more information, contact Bonnie Marden at [email protected].