Pension Boards’ Initiative Addresses Pastoral Debt

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.

In 2017, the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ (PBUCC) launched the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative (MFVI), intended to increase and improve financial wellness among UCC authorized ministers.

“Personal financial wellness is essential to the life of the whole Church," said Rev. Darrell L. Goodwin, PBUCC’s MFVI Program Director. 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.”

The initial phase of MFVI was made possible by a $1 million grant awarded to PBUCC from the Lilly Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders. In November 2019, PBUCC was one of 20 organizations selected to receive a second $1 million grant to expand the reach of the program.

Here is a summary of the components of the Ministers’ Financial Vitality Initiative:

  • 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, there are now three cohorts, totaling 90 participants. Applications for the next Program 1 cohort will be available in 2020.
  • MFVI Program Two: Helps 100 selected UCC authorized ministers achieve personal financial vitality through provision of one-time grants of up to $1,000, with the employing congregations committing to raising a matching amount for the minister. Applications for Program 2 are now being accepted. Click here to apply.


“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.”

For more information about MFVI, please contact Rev. Darrell L. Goodwin at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the MFVI web page.