Rising theological education costs, reductions in scholarship funding, and lower-than-average pastoral salaries are just some of the factors leading to financial challenges among ministers today. Leading a church and managing educational debt along with other personal financial obligations can be overwhelming for ministers.
The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC) is pleased to announce the launch of a five-year Faith and Personal Finance Initiative – the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI) – intended to increase and improve financial wellness among UCC authorized ministers. The program is designed especially for ministers from historically-underrepresented groups within the denomination such as, but not limited to, people of color, LGBTQ persons, people living with disabilities, and clergy under 30.
“We are excited to get this program off the ground,” said Rev. Darrell L. Goodwin, PBUCC’s MFVI Program Director. “Personal financial wellness is essential to the life of the whole Church. Ministers can more effectively serve their churches if they are not distracted by overwhelming financial burdens. This program will help ministers examine and develop strategies to pay down or eliminate educational and other debt, and help them see a way out of it with confidence,” he said.
PBUCC President and CEO Brian R. Bodager added, “MFVI underscores our mission to provide the Church with valued services leading to greater financial security and wellness. This program is an excellent tool for authorized ministers to address financial challenges head-on.”
MFVI is made possible by a $1 million grant awarded to PBUCC last December from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. Here is a summary of the program elements:
- MFVI Program One: Engages a selection of 30 UCC authorized ministers per year for three years to commit to a three-year personal finance education curriculum, including a yearly financial incentive, and no-cost financial planning and counseling through Ernst & Young Financial Planning Services (EYFPS). The first cohort began the program in November 2017. Applications for the second cohort of Program 1 will be available in Summer 2018.
- MFVI Program Two [begins January 2018]: Helps 100 selected UCC authorized ministers achieve financial vitality through provision of one-time grants of up to $1,000, with the employing congregations committing to raising a matching amount. Applications for Program 2 will be available in January 2018.
“We believe there is a connection between pastoral financial challenges and congregational financial challenges,” said Rev. Goodwin. “MFVI intends to engage key lay leaders in UCC churches to identify and address these issues. We are excited to begin this work.”