What Assistance is Available?

General Ministerial Assistance Policies

Attempt, but make no guarantee, that using all appropriate combinations of Ministerial Assistance, the income levels of retirees who meet all of the eligibility requirements, including thirty years of dues paying service, will be brought up to a minimum level established annually. For 2016 that level is currently $29,400 for annuitants and $22,050 for beneficiaries.

Except in extraordinary circumstances, no person or family, active or retired, is eligible for assistance if their total family income is in excess of the average salary of active clergy in the United Church of Christ, currently $56,696 (2017).

All sources of family income, including that of spouses and qualified same-gender domestic partners (QSGDP), must be included in the determination of eligibility for Ministerial Assistance.

Loss of United Church of Christ Authorized Ministerial Standing will terminate eligibility for all forms of Ministerial Assistance.

Ministerial Assistance may not replace funding from public assistance or other sources.

Emergency Grants

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Emergency Grants are one-time grants to assist with unforeseen circumstances that create financial demands. The situations are usually beyond the control of the individual, and not simply the result of poor decision making. The grants are not for situations resulting from conscious decisions and choices that led directly to the situation. These grants are not intended to subsidize churches, agencies or ministries or to relieve them of meeting normal compensation responsibilities.

The sole source of funding for Emergency Grants is proceeds of the Annual Christmas Fund Appeal. Normally, grants are made in consultation with, and with the endorsement of, Conference Staff. Grants for Health Benefits Premiums are normally limited to one quarter.

Those eligible for an Emergency Grant include:

  • Authorized Ministers with current UCC Standing
  • Lay Employees of a Qualified Church Controlled Organization (QCCO—essentially a UCC congregation, Association, Conference or National Setting) with a minimum of 10 years of service
  • Authorized Ministers or Lay Employees on Long term Disability through a Pension Boards Plan
  • Surviving spouses, or surviving qualified same-gender domestic partners (QSGDP) of the above
  • Divorced spouses where the divorced spouse has a continuing relationship with the Pension Boards
  • Members in Discernment who are currently serving in a ministry setting

To apply for an Emergency Grant, contact either your Conference Minister or the Director of Ministerial Assistance at the Pension Boards by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling 1.800.642.6543, ext. 2716.

Supplementation of Small Annuities

In order to "keep faith with those who have served," the United Church of Christ since its inception has had a plan of supplementation of small annuities for its retirees. Similar commitments were also present in our predecessor bodies and on behalf of the whole church, the Pension Boards carries on this legacy today.

The General Synod of the United Church of Christ adopted the Plan for supplementing small annuities of retired clergy and lay employees and their widowed spouses/qualified same-gender domestic partners (QSGDP). Individuals who qualify may receive monthly payments to bring total pension income up to a minimum level set annually by authority of General Synod, upon recommendation from the Pension Boards.

Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum annual pension level is $30,192 ($2,515 monthly) for a retired minister or lay employee and $22,644 ($1,887 monthly) for a widowed spouse/QSGDP. These amounts are based on your total household income—not just your UCC pension. These levels are also based on the total dollars available from Our Church's Wider Mission (OCWM), the Christmas Fund Offering and endowed funds for Ministerial Assistance, as well as the number of eligible persons applying for pension supplementation at any given time.

Supplementation is a gift based on need and years of dues-paying participation in the Annuity Plan of the UCC. The benefit does not reduce or increase regular annuity payments made by the Pension Boards. Availability of pension supplementation is determined on an annual basis. There is no guarantee that supplementation will be available in future years.

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For more information regarding eligibility, click here to view the Supplementation of Small Annuities Brochure.

Individuals who wish to be considered for supplementation must submit a Pension Data Sheet. Download a Pension Data Sheet here, or contact the Office of Ministerial Assistance to have one sent you by mail by calling 1.800.642.6543 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Supplementation of Health Premiums for Annuitants

The Health Premium Supplementation Plan, recognized by General Synod, helps qualified, lower-income retired clergy and lay church employees and their widowed spouses/qualifying same-gender domestic partners (QSGDPs) pay their UCC Medicare Supplement Plan contributions. Availability of Health Premiums Supplementation is determined on an annual basis. There is no guarantee that supplementation will be available in future years. This supplementation plan is made possible by the generosity of individuals and congregations to The Christmas Fund offering and further subsidized by the endowed funds for Ministerial Assistance.

Availability of Health Premium Supplementation is determined on an annual basis. There is no guarantee that supplementation will be available in future years.

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For more information regarding eligibility, view the Supplementation of Health Premiums Brochure here.

Individuals who wish to be considered for supplementation must submit a Pension Data Sheet, available by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., calling 1.800.642.6543, or by downloading a Pension Data Sheet here.

 

Christmas "Thank You" Gift Checks

As a way of saying "thank you" for years of service to the Church, some of our annuitants with limited financial resources receive an annual Christmas gift check. Generally, "limited financial resources" refers to persons receiving some form of Ministerial Assistance, but not exclusively. Annuitant Visitors and Conference Staff may nominate additional recipients based on their knowledge of the individual's circumstances.

Besides financial need, the other eligibility requirements include:

  • Authorized Ministers with current UCC Standing
  • Lay Employees of a Qualified Church Controlled Organization (QCCO—essentially a UCC congregation, Association, Conference or National Setting) with a minimum of 10 years of service
  • Surviving spouses, or surviving qualified same-gender domestic partner (QSGDP) of the above
  • Divorced Spouses where the Divorced Spouse has a continuing relationship with the Pension Boards

A special arrangement exists with the Massachusetts Conference. Because Massachusetts provides larger grants than the Pension Boards, the Pension Boards reimburses the Conference for any gifts we would have provided to Massachusetts retirees, rather than sending gifts directly to those retirees. Massachusetts, in turn, states that the gift is from both the Pension Boards and the Massachusetts Conference.

Ministerial Assistance Monthly Grants

Monthly Grants are for persons whose retirement or disability income is insufficient to meet reasonable living expenses. The source of funding for these grants is the Reserve Fund for Ministerial Assistance.
Grants can be made in consultation with Conference Staff.

All Grants are reviewed on an annual basis, more often when circumstances warrant. While these grants are renewable, there is no guarantee of continuation beyond the current commitment period and grants are always subject to the availability of funds.

To be eligible, the person requesting the grant can have no more than $25,000 in assets, with the exclusion of their home.

Those eligible for Monthly Ministerial Assistance Grants include annuitants and persons on disability who are:

  • Authorized Ministers with current UCC Standing, or
  • Lay Employees of a Qualified Church Controlled Organization (QCCO—essentially a UCC congregation, Association, Conference or National Setting) with a minimum of 10 years of service, or
  • Authorized Ministers or Lay Employees on Long term Disability through a Pension Boards Plan, or
  • Surviving spouses, or surviving qualified same-gender domestic partners (QSGDP) of the above, or
  • Divorced spouses where the divorced spouse has a continuing relationship with the Pension Boards

Note: Persons living in nursing homes or other facilities that require that this gift be included as income are not eligible for supplementation. Generally, this includes persons who are receiving Medicaid benefits.

Individuals who wish to be considered for a monthly grant must submit an Application and Pension Data Sheet, available by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.calling 1.800.642.6543, ext. 2714, or by downloading a Pension Data Sheet here, and downloading a Ministerial Assistance Application here.

UCBMA Higher Education Scholarship

Scholarship Assistance is available through the Pension Boards for the higher education of children of deceased ministers who held valid Authorized Ministerial Standing when they died.  Also available are higher education scholarships for children of authorized ministers who served the United Church of Christ for at least 10 years and are now on Long-Term Disability. 

Scholarships are based on financial need.  Scholarships are limited to $1,000 per academic period, or $2,000 per calendar year, with a lifetime maximum of $10,000 per student.

Scholarships are only available for study at accredited institutions leading toward Associate or Baccalaureate degrees or for seminary education at one of the six seminaries of the United Church of Christ.

The source of funding is the Fund for Ministerial Assistance.

Individuals who wish to be considered for a scholarship must submit an Application, available by downloading a Scholarship Application here or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by calling 1.800.642.6543, ext. 2714.

New Church Start Benefit Support

In partnership with the Congregational Assessment and Support Team of UCC Local Church Ministries, the United Church Board of Ministerial Assistance (UCBMA) has committed to support new ministries of the United Church of Christ by creating a grant program designed to help cover the cost of benefits for pastors serving in new congregational settings.

Since 2008 the UCBMA has approved a grant of up to $100,000 per year to be administered by the Congregational Assessment and Support Team of Local Church Ministries to assist new church start pastors with the cost of health, dental, and pension benefits.  These grants are disbursed by the Pension Boards in the form of credits directly to the benefit accounts of the identified clergy.  The grant program is subject to annual evaluation and renewal by the UCBMA.

The Congregational Assessment and Support Team of Local Church Ministries determines who receives the grant and qualifies those who will receive the grant subject to the following criteria:

  • The minister must have ministerial standing in an Association or Conference of the United Church of Christ.
  • The congregation must enroll the minister in the UCC Life Insurance and Disability Income Benefit Plan at the expense of the congregation (1.5% of pastor’s annual salary basis.)
  • The minister must qualify for enrollment in the various benefit plans subject to the normal enrollment criteria of the Pension Boards.
  • The minister has the option to choose to enroll in all of the benefit plans (health, dental, annuity) or may opt to choose any combination of the benefit plans.
  • New Church Start grants last for three years.  The amount of the grant awarded is at the discretion of the Congregational Assessment and Support Team of LCM with a maximum of $10,000 awarded in the first year of the grant.  The amount of the grant will decrease each subsequent year of the program.  A typical grant of $8,000 for the first year, will likely decrease to $6,000 in the second year and $4,000 in the final year of the program.
  • Upon conclusion of a minister’s employment, the grant will end for that pastor; however they are eligible to continue in the benefits plan at their own or their next church’s expense.
  • Congregations awarded a New Church grant for a pastor who leaves the church, can apply to continue the grant for their new pastor.  Only one grant is awarded per congregation.

Congregations apply on behalf of their pastors through their Conference office.  The Conference must endorse the application.  Applications are accepted yearly from January through August with an annual deadline of September 1.

For application, contact the UCC Local Church Ministries Congregational Assessment and Support Team at 1.216.736.3800.