Glenview, IL- The United Methodist General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB), in partnership with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) and the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF), has been awarded a $50,000 planning grant by Lilly Endowment Inc. to help The United Methodist Church improve financial literacy of pastoral leaders and their overall financial well-being.
Improving Pastoral Financial Leadership
Planning grants were awarded to a total of 23 religious organizations, which included pension boards, foundations and other denominational agencies, based on proposals submitted at the invitation of the Endowment’s religion division. The Endowment’s National Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Pastoral Leaders has two aims:
· to assist invited national and regional church-related organizations in developing new or strengthening existing programs to reduce or alleviate some of the key financial pressures that inhibit effective pastoral leadership; and
· to improve the financial literacy and management skills of pastoral leaders through educational programs and other efforts to increase their ability to provide capable fiscal leadership for the parishes and ministries under their care.
Unique Partnership Opportunity
GBPHB General Secretary Barbara Boigegrain noted, “It was an honor to be invited by the Lilly Endowment to respond to their proposal request. In some ways, it endorses the type of work we have been doing all along to support clergy and other church workers who have financial responsibilities. This is a unique opportunity to partner within the UMC—to collaborate and elevate our efforts to a much larger national scale, supporting the need we see every day for greater financial acumen in mission.”
Kim Cape, general secretary of GBHEM, said, “We are delighted to partner with GBPHB and TMF to apply for a grant that can help us think about how to expand and continue our efforts to address this large problem encumbering clergy (and those who feel called to pursue ordination) in our denomination. Since 2013, GBHEM has been engaged in research on indebtedness of UM seminarians, in partnership with schools and universities across the country. This new collaboration will help us further develop comprehensive programs to support our young clergy by reducing seminary costs while also developing a broad education program for ministers who have not had access to financial literacy models.”
TMF President Tom Locke added, “TMF is pleased and honored to collaborate with GBPHB and GBHEM on efforts that will ultimately strengthen the ability of clergy to create missional cultures of generosity in their congregations. In providing financial and leadership resources to churches throughout Texas and New Mexico, we have seen that pastors with financial acumen and personal financial well-being have the best chance of empowering a spirit of abundance throughout their congregations, which then leads to life-changing ministries in those churches. Endeavors like these that create healthier, more sustainable models for ministry are good for pastors and good for congregations.”
GBPHB, GBHEM and TMF will share the considerable information and resources available across these UMC organizations and plan to submit an implementation grant proposal to the Lilly Endowment in August 2015. The proposal will seek to develop a financial training program for ministers so they can become better financial managers themselves and for the churches in their care.